The Economic Community of West African States, also known as ECOWAS is a regional economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa. Holding a passport from one of these countries will give you easy access without visa to any of the other member countries and in some, the right to live and work. However, outside of the ECOWAS zone, these passports do not fare so well. Unfortunately for a nomad like myself, I hold one of these passports: the Guinean one that gives me visa free access to 56 countries around the world, include ECOWAS ones.
In this post we are going to look at the ranking of these countries in term of visa free travel around the world. Note that the total number includes visa free travel and visa on arrival.
According to the Passport Index, here is the ranking of ECOWAS passports.
|#||Country||Visa Free Travel||Global Ranking|
|9||Mauritania (left 2002)||55||76|
Note: Even though Mauritania is no longer part of the ECOWAS zone, I believe it’s only a question time before it joins again.
As you can see in this table, the Gambian passport is the best one and the Nigerian one is the worst one to hold with only 45 visa free travel and an overall ranking of 86 over 97 in the world.
To conclude, I would like to add that even though I hold a Guinean passport which is pretty weak in travel power, it has been very easy for me to obtain EU, UK and American visas. I was refused only once a US visa for some very obscure reasons and 6 months later when I reapplied I got it without difficulty. This proves that even with an ECOWAS passport, with the right economic and social background and with enough travel history, you can still live your wanderlust dreams.