Why being South African is a passport to mediocrity

13 September 2017 - 12:27 By Farren Collins
South Africa's passport is the 87th best in the world.
South Africa's passport is the 87th best in the world.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

How good is it really to be a South African? According to the latest Quality of Nationality Index‚ an Mzansi passport ranks as only the 87th best in the world‚ and fourth in sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa’s “quality of nationality” scored 33%‚ putting it in the lower half of the 150 states in the index and giving it a "medium quality" rating.

The findings were released in London on Wednesday by international residence and citizenship planning firm‚ Henley & Partners.

The company used a wide variety of quantifiable data to determine the opportunities and limitations nationalities impose on citizens‚ and the index measures both the internal and external quality of nationality.

Quality of life‚ opportunities for personal growth‚ diversity and the quality of opportunities were just some of the factors considered.

Despite moving up three places from the 2015 index‚ South Africa was still well behind Mauritius and the Seychelles in Africa‚ which ranked 54th and 55th respectively. Cape Verde is the third-ranked sub-Saharan African country‚ one position higher than South Africa on the global list.

Germany continued to lead the world for offering the best citizenship‚ scoring 82.7%‚ with European countries dominating the top rankings. France and Denmark tied for second place‚ while the UK came 12th and the US could only earn 29th place with a 68.8% rating. Afghanistan took last position with a score of 14.6%.

The managing partner at Henley & Partners SA‚ Nigel Barnes‚ said the key premise of the index was to compare the relative worth of nationalities as opposed to just countries.

“Nationality plays a significant role in determining our opportunities and aspirations‚ and the QNI allows us to analyse this objectively‚” he said.

When it comes to travel and settlement freedom‚ South Africa was lagging‚ said Barnes. “With visa-free access to just 98 countries‚ the country’s nationality is positioned 74th in the travel freedom ranking‚ much lower than‚ for example‚ those of Mauritius or the Seychelles‚ which grant access to 130 and 137 destinations respectively.”

According to Barnes‚ the reality the QNI describes is “regrettable” but also provides an empowering perspective.

“In the majority of circumstances‚ our nationality plays an important role in establishing a highly irrational ceiling for our opportunities and aspirations.

“On the other hand‚ the QNI is a vital resource for financially independent individuals who wish to acquire the benefits of dual citizenship as it provides assistance in making important decisions regarding where to live and raise a family‚ do business‚ and enjoy a satisfying global lifestyle — in other words‚ to define their futures.”