Afrobarometer–Key Findings

The very first Afrobarometer Briefing Paper–here’s the link to a PDF version–(April 2002) presents some key findings regarding the views of African residents in about a dozen African countries on phenomena such as democracy, freedom, governance, etc. Here are a few I found interesting:

  • Corruption is seen as pervasive

Whereas about one-half of survey respondents think that corruption among public officials is common (52 percent), about one-third think it is rare (35 percent). Perceived corruption is highest in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, and lowest in Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia. Generally, however, people perceive more corruption than they themselves have personally experienced. Such perceptions, and the social inequalities they reflect, tend to corrode satisfaction with economic reform policies and with democracy.

In class, I use the module on economic and political development as an opportunity to ask students if they have ever tried to bribe an official for any reason whatsoever. The answer amongst my mostly suburban-bred American students is a unanimous “no.” Generally only I (and sometimes a foreign student) raise our hands to answer in the affirmative. I try to impress upon the students that bribery and corruption is a normal part of life in most non-Western countries. In most citizens’ dealings with official (read: governmental and quasi-governmental) institutions, bribing at least one official is absolutely necessary to get anything done.

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Afrobarometer Public Opinion Surveys

The Afrobarometer survey allows public access to its data, with a two-year time lag. From a description found on its home page, the Afrobarometer is “a comparative series of public attitude surveys on democracy, markets, and civil society in Africe.” The site is full of resources, in addition to the data, such as publications (including downloadable working papers), results, news and events.

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Here are the countries surveyed and the years for each:

Country
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Other
Benin
2005
Botswana
1999
2003
2005
Cape Verde
2002
2005
Ghana
1999
2002
2005
1997
Kenya
2003
2005
Lesotho
2000
2003
2005
Madagascar
2005
Malawi
1999
2003
2005
Mali
2001
2002
2005
Mozambique
2002
2005
Namibia
1999
2003
2006
2002
Nigeria
2000
2003
2005
2001, 2007
Senegal
2002
2005
South Africa
2000
2002
2006
1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2004
Tanzania
2001
2003
2005
Uganda
2000
2002
2005
Zambia
1999
2003
2005
1993, 1996
Zimbabwe
1999
2004
2005