South Africa will need to consider reciprocal visa waivers if it is to keep up with its BRICS partners on the Henley Passport Index.. Picture: Etienne Creux
Cape Town - South Africa will need to consider reciprocal visa waivers if it is to keep up with its BRICS partners on the Henley Passport Index.

Henley group marketing and communication head Vuyiseka Geza said: “The latest index released to mark the start of the new decade shows South Africa in 56th position, almost 10 places lower than its position on the index in 2010. By contrast, other BRICS nations such as Brazil and China have improved their positions over the same period by nine places and 16 places respectively.”

However, South Africa is not the only BRICS member that could improve its standing. “India and Russia have also seen the power of their passports decline during that time, but not to such a great extent - dropping by seven places in the case of India and two places for Russia,” said Geza.

The Henley Passport Index is an original ranking of all the world's passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

Geza added:“The shift in South Africa's ranking is emblematic of the widening global mobility gap between African countries and other regions featured on the index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (Iata).”

As far as Africa goes, Seychelles, Mauritius and South Africa are the top three African countries on the index. Seychelles was ranked at 26, Mauritius at 32.

According to the latest ranking, the US and the UK are also continuing on a downward trajectory. While both countries remain in the top 10, their shared 8th position is a significant decline from the number one spot they jointly held in 2015.

In December, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced a number of changes to the visa regime. One of the most notable moves was the testing and piloting of its eVisa-application system.

“It is reliable, client-friendly and convenient for visa applicants, airlines, trading partners and Home Affairs officials,” said Motsoaledi.

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