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Passport Power Ranking Records Widest Ever Gap in Travel Freedom

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Nigerian International passport- Investors King

The latest results and research from the Henley Passport Index show how proliferating barriers to entry over the past 18 months of the pandemic have resulted in the widest global mobility gap in its 16-year history, with passport holders from top ranking Japan and Singapore able to travel visa free to 166 more destinations than Afghan nationals, who sit at the bottom of the index with access to just 26 countries without requiring a visa in advance.

Based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the index, which ranks all of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa, shows that countries in the global north with high-ranking passports have enforced some of the most stringent inbound Covid-19-related travel restrictions, while many countries with lower-ranking passports have relaxed their borders without seeing this openness reciprocated. This has created an ever-widening gap in travel freedom even for fully vaccinated travelers from countries at the lower end of the passport power ranking who remain locked out of most of the world.

Unique research and expert analysis commissioned by leading international residence and citizenship by investment advisory firm Henley & Partners indicates that this gap is likely to increase, as pandemic-related restrictions become entrenched and amplify the already significant global mobility divide between advanced and developing economies. Japan, which shares top spot on the index with Singapore due to their visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192, currently bars almost all foreign nationals from entry. Germany, which sits alongside South Korea in joint-2nd place with a visa-free/visa-on arrival score of 190, currently restricts nearly 100 countries from entry.

At the lower end of the index, Egypt, ranked 97th, currently has no travel restrictions in place, yet its citizens can access just 51 destinations around the world without acquiring a visa in advance. Similarly, Kenya, which ranks 77th, has no travel bans in place, yet its passport holders are able to access just 72 destinations visa-free.

Has Covid become an excuse for curbing visitors from the global south?

In response to recent developments, experts suggest that restrictive policies initially introduced to contain the spread of Covid-19 are now being conveniently applied to contain mobility from the global south. Commenting in Henley & Partners’ Global Mobility Report 2021 Q4Prof. Mehari Taddele Maru, a Fellow at the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies, points out that the rationale behind the restrictions on travelers from the global south are not necessarily related to vaccination or infection rates, as they are subject to quarantine requirements whether they are vaccinated or not. “The global north has been enforcing aggressive migration containment strategies for some time now through the rigid application of border controls, undermining the movement of persons in various ways. Covid-19-associated travel restrictions are new additions to the toolbox of migration containment instruments employed by the global north to curb mobility from the global south.”

Recent adjustments to the Covid-ban policies of the UK and the US, which share 7th place on the index with a visa-free score of 185, have done little to alter what experts perceive to be growing inequalities when it comes to travel freedom and access. Nor has their refusal to recognize vaccines administered across Africa, South America, and South Asia.

Commenting on these latest developments, Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, notes that these decisions are likely to have far-reaching consequences. “If we want to restart the global economy, it is critical that developed nations encourage inward migration flows, as opposed to persisting with outmoded restrictions. Resourceful countries need to futureproof their economies by attracting and welcoming the upcoming generation. It is pivotal that advanced nations consider revising their current somewhat exclusive approach to the rest of the world and reform and adapt to overcome the competition and not miss the opportunity to embrace the potential.”

EU, UK, and US policies present complex obstacles on road to normality

As advanced economies contemplate a return to business as usual, experts note that many challenges lie ahead. Commenting in the Global Mobility Report 2021 Q4 on the UK’s recent travel ban adjustments, Dr. Hannah White OBE, Deputy Director of the Institute for Government, a leading London think tank, says that restrictions to international movement look certain to continue to affect travelers to and from the UK well into 2022. “The direction of travel has been towards greater freedoms, but ongoing requirements for expensive tests and quarantine for those vaccinated outside the UK, and the absence of an approved international vaccination certification scheme, continue to rule out visits for many international travelers, limit short-term international travel for UK residents, and potentially cause issues for UK residents vaccinated in non-approved countries.”

Convoluted and ever-changing travel restrictions are also causing setbacks across the Atlantic, says Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research at NewCities, who notes that while the US recently lifted restrictions for travelers from the EU, the bloc has voted to remove America from its ‘safe list’ of countries. “As has been the case throughout the pandemic, passports once thought to be sacrosanct are again in flux due to parabolic case counts and shifting politics. The predicted Q4 return to normalcy now offers more questions than answers. The run-up to year end promises to be a race between vaccinations and variants, with the pandemic’s eventual end hanging in the balance.”

Dr. Leila Hadj Abdou, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna and a part-time assistant professor at the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute in Italy, says that the EU is facing complex challenges of its own. “International migration and mobility will continue to play an important role in the EU’s economy and its development, given the ongoing skills shortages across many member states. New Covid variants that are spreading faster — and among younger, non-vaccinated cohorts in particular — are causing uncertainty regarding whether the economy can remain open, especially in (migrant-reliant) sectors such as tourism and hospitality.”

Unpredictability hits developing world hardest

For many countries with low-ranking passports on the Henley Passport Index, proliferating barriers to entry are hindering progress, even as many reopen their borders in desperate bids to reboot economic growth. Erol Yayboke, senior fellow with the International Security Program and director of the Project on Fragility and Mobility at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, points out in the Global Mobility Report 2021 Q4 that the pandemic’s sustained impact on global human mobility means that there may never be a post-pandemic world to navigate. “Covid-19 is as much an economic crisis as it is a public health one, though in both regards it disproportionately negatively affects migration origin countries. Increased pressure to move for survival will be met with pandemic-related barriers to movement that are likely to linger, both because the virus itself is lingering and because increased control over migration will be difficult for some leaders to relinquish.”

Commenting on the mounting barriers to entry faced by African countries, the award-winning South African journalist Justice Malala notes that the rest of the world remains largely inaccessible to travelers from the continent, with new obstacles emerging. “In an attempt to restart the economy, the South African government announced in early September that it had commenced with developing a digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate to confirm proof of vaccination that would align with international standards, which would be available before the end of the month. Officials had previously said the country would introduce a vaccine passport together with other African nations — but achieving uniformity and legitimacy of the document across the continent is proving a challenge.”

Renewed focus on safety, stability, and healthcare

In taking stock of the dramatic changes wrought by the pandemic, experts in the Global Mobility Report 2021 Q4 suggest that a global vaccine hierarchy is emerging. Kevin Bürchler of the SIP Medical Family Office in Switzerland says having access to vaccinations with the widest approval and acceptance rates may result in higher health security, but also in more convenience during travels. “AstraZeneca’s non-replicating viral vector vaccination currently ranks number one, having been approved by more than 120 countries. Pfizer–BioNTech’s vaccination is currently approved in 98 countries, Russia’s Sputnik in 71 countries, and Moderna in 69 countries worldwide. Your health or vaccination status — sometimes in combination with additional passports — may now be even more important for your global access rights than your primary passport is.”

Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, says that at a moment of great uncertainty, investment migration programs offer an invaluable source of stability. “For the countries that are able to offer these programs, the security they provide acts as a safeguard against the economic volatility that continues to wreak havoc across the world. For more and more people, it is self-evident that acquiring a second citizenship or alternative residence, or both, is a foundational building block for a safe and stable future.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Nigeria Air to Commence Operations Soon; Air Service to Start With Abuja-Lagos Route

Nigeria Air will soon begin operations, starting with the Abuja – Lagos route, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had stated.

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The country’s National Carrier, Nigeria Air will soon begin operations, starting with the Abuja – Lagos route, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had stated.

According to the minister, the National Carrier, “Nigeria Air” will be launched with three Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Hadi Sirika further disclosed that the aircraft are configured to adapt to the Nigerian market. 

It will be recalled that in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised a National Carrier as part of his campaign manifesto. While preliminary work begins, the government however suspends the plan in 2018 with no defined explanation. 

The Minister also disclosed that Ethiopian Airlines Consortium has been selected as the preferred partner for Nigeria Air with a stake of 49 percent. The Federal Government will hold a stake of five percent while a group of three investors ‘MRS, SHACO and Sovereign Wealth Fund will retain 46 percent. 

Speaking during a press conference in Abuja, Hadi Siriki noted that the bidding process was subjected to due process and due diligence. Nigeria Air has an ambitious plan to reach a size of 30 aircraft and begin International operation within the next two years. 

Meanwhile, Nigeria Air Limited has commenced recruitment of qualified crew members ahead of its launch. A memo posted on the verified Twitter handle of the Ministry of Aviation read 

“Nigeria Air is now recruiting qualified crew for the following positions: Experienced, and current B737 Captains; Experienced, and Current B737 First Officers; Experienced, and Current B737 Senior Cabin Crew and Cabin Crew Experienced, and Current B737 Engineers (B1/B2 preferred),” the memo noted.

Interested and qualified candidates are advised to forward their Curriculum Vitae (CVs) to recruitment@nigeriaair.world

Nigeria previously had a national carrier, “Nigeria Airways” which was founded in 1958 and wholly owned by the government. It ceased to operate in 2003 due to corruption and mismanagement. 

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N1.2 Billion Debt: Azman Air Signs MoU With NCAA; Begins Operations

Azman Air has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on how it will be paying the said amount.

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Azman Air

Following the suspension of its operating license over N1.2 billion debt which accrued from non-remittance of ticket sale charge and cargo sale charge (TSC/CSC), Azman Air has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on how it will be paying the said amount.

The local airline disclosed in a statement made available to the press on Friday.

On Thursday, NCAA had suspended the renewal of the airline license and forced management to cancel all flights scheduled for operations on Thursday and Friday over its non-remittance of over N1.2 billion TSC/CSC. Passengers already scheduled to travel on Azman were forced to return home or in some cases join other airlines to their destinations.

On Friday, Azman Air announced it has signed an MoU with NCAA and other affected parties. The NCAA, therefore, renewed the company an operating license.

“A Licence to operate scheduled and non-scheduled passenger and cargo air services within and outside Nigeria is hereby granted, pursuant to Sections 18.2.2.3 and 18.2.2.4 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2015 to:
Messrs: AZMAN AIR SERVICES LIMITED 1, Zaria Road, Kano for a period of five (5) years Date issued: 16th September, 2022 Expiry Date: 15th September, 2027. The utilisation of this Licence shall be in compliance with all relevant Civil Aviation Regulations,” the Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, disclosed in the letter forwarded to the airline.

According to the details of the MoU, Azman Air agreed to be remitting N50 million monthly from the 5% of all its ticket Sales Charge and Cargo Sales Charge.

The formalities of the MoU signing was finalised on Friday at the NCAA headquarters in Abuja, but the regulatory agency had already lifted the sanction on the airline following its compliance with the various agreements reached.

The 5% TSC/CSC is shared among five aviation agencies; NCAA, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria.

NCAA gets 58% from the total 5% of charges, which is the major revenue earning for the agency, while the other four agencies share the remaining 42 percent in different proportions.

Besides, it was gathered that the airline had also submitted its tax and security clearance forms to the NCAA, after its initial reluctance to do so for about 10 months without any basic reason.

Tax and security clearance forms are two of the requirements for issuance of ATL or Air Operators Licence (AOC) or their renewals by NCAA.

Since the operations of the airline were suspended on Thursday, its management had held a series of meetings with the NCAA.

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See Top Five Programs Africans Are Using to Secure Second Citizenship

Nigeria and South Africa are among the top 10 countries submitting applications for second citizenship and also making enquiries about how to get one.

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With the rising political uncertainty in most African nations, it is not surprising that the number of Africans seeking second citizenship is on the rise.

In a recent report released by Henley & Partners, an investment migration consultancy based in London, Nigeria and South Africa are among the top 10 countries submitting applications for second citizenship and also making enquiries about how to get one.

In the report titled “Africa: Q3 2022 Investment Migration Insights“, African nationals are applying for second citizenship in 2022 via five main programs. These programs were listed as:

  • The Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program
  • The St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program
  • The Canada Start-Up Visa Program
  • The Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program
  • And the UK Innovator Program.

While for European destinations, it is Malta, Montenegro, Spain, and Greece.

Outside Nigeria and South Africa, other African nationals making enquiries and applying for second citizenship are Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Uganda.

In the first six months of the year, Henley & Partners said it received 63% of the enquiries received in the whole of 2021 from affluent citizens of African countries.

According to the investment migration company, wealthy African families are applying for second citizenship because of global mobility, access to world-class education, healthcare and in some cases to avoid turmoil and other eventualities.

“No matter where you were born, or where you currently reside, wealthy investors can futureproof themselves and their families for whatever might lie ahead through residence and citizenship by investment,” stated Henley & Partners.

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