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Majority of Africans continue to choose democracy over any other form of government, according to a recent survey conducted by Afrobarometer, a pan-African, independent, non-partisan research network. More than six in 10 of those polled prefer an accountable government, even if it is ineffective.

Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi
Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Afrobarometer co-founder and board chair

Based in Accra, Ghana, Afrobarometer measures public attitudes on economic, political, and social matters in Africa.

The leadership of Afrobarometer shared some of these research findings (https://apo-opa.info/3KPgRnt) on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at a press conference that touched on elections, climate change, governance, and economic conditions. Participants included journalists, civil society organisations, researchers, and other stakeholders.

CEO, Joseph Asunka, highlighted some of Afrobarometer’s significant milestones for 2022, including the completion of a 10-year strategy, which will guide Afrobarometer surveys and related activities in the next five survey rounds. Also, in 2022, for the first time in its history, Afrobarometer completed 33 country surveys – more than 40,000 individual interviews with citizens across the continent, covering urban and rural areas.

On governance, Asunka said the overall picture was encouraging, with widespread popular support for democratic practices.

“Across the continent, the good news is Africans are still solidly committed to democracy; that remains the majority view. They prefer democracy to any other form of government,” Asunka said, adding that a clear majority of Africans remain in favour of elections, parliamentary oversight of the president, media freedom, and limits on presidential tenure.

In 20 countries surveyed in 2021/2022, 67% of Africans expressed a preference for democracy “over any other kind of government” and rejected non-democratic alternatives such as one-man rule (81%).

Participants heard that most Africans describe their economic conditions as bad and give governments poor performance ratings on critical economic issues such as job creation and management of the economy. Unemployment remains the top policy priority cited by Africans (35%), followed closely by management of the economy (34%).

On climate change, only about half (51%) of citizens say they have heard of climate change, and three-fourths (74%) of those who are aware of climate change want their governments to take climate action no matter the economic costs.

In the upcoming Round 10, Afrobarometer will include new modules on sexual and reproductive rights, migration, youth, and access to justice. Other plans include launching capacity-strengthening initiatives for journalists and civil society groups in data analysis and survey research methods.

Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Afrobarometer co-founder and board chair, said these results come at a critical juncture as the continent’s most populous nation, Nigeria, goes to the polls. It also coincides with a busy electoral year for the continent. A dozen countries are expected to elect new leaders this year. Afrobarometer, too, finds itself at a pivotal moment in its 24-year history.

“The year 2022 was a remarkable one. Firstly, we surveyed an impressive 33 countries that year, a record-breaking achievement in a single calendar year and the first of its kind in our history. Even more important, the demand for our data and analysis from policy and development stakeholders on the continent and abroad surged dramatically,” Gyimah-Boadi said.

“As we look ahead, we remain steadfast in our mission to continually share data-driven insights and evidence-based policy options. And we are confident that our efforts will generate tangible outcomes for citizens,” said Gyimah-Boadi.

Director of Surveys Boniface Dulani, Director of Analysis Carolyn Logan, head of data management Jamy Felton, and capacity building manager Dominique Dryding provided expert insights during the in-depth conversation, moderated by Afrobarometer director of communications Nafissatou Diouf.

Dulani said: “For the first time in the history of Afrobarometer, we completed 33 regular-round surveys in one calendar year. That is an average of nearly three surveys a month. This brought our overall total of R9 surveys to 37. The 33 surveys completed in 2022 involved more than 40,000 individual interviews with ordinary citizens across the continent.”

Logan’s words: “Afrobarometer’s aim is to reach many diverse audiences with our findings, from ordinary Africans to senior policy makers, journalists, policy advocates, academics, business leaders and others, so that African voices are heard in policy debates through many different channels.”

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