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The latest round of the Afrobarometer polling found that Africans are increasingly disenchanted with democracy. Two findings confirmed what we might have expected:
Nigerian President Obasanjo’s decision not to fight for the opportunity to run for a third term looks increasingly like a smart move: it looks unlikely he could have won a fair election. As reported in a WaPo account of the polling results:
In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa. the number of people rating their personal financial situations as at least "fairly good" declined from 68 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2005. The decline in satisfaction with democracy over that time was even steeper, from 84 to 26 percent. Trust in Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo fell nearly as far, from 77 to 26 percent, defying a broad trend among Africans toward putting more faith in their presidents.
There was also further confirmation that Zimbabweans are suffering from the policies of the current government:
Only 3 percent of Zimbabweans surveyed said the government was doing at least "fairly well" at creating jobs, down from 23 percent in 2002. Poll results showed a worsening of poverty and hunger as well….Only 12 percent of Zimbabweans questioned said they felt free to speak their minds about politics, lower than in any of the countries polled.
None of this seems overly surprising. Nor does the decline in sentiment toward democracy in places like Malawi, Zambia, and Uganda. But the real shocker for me is that WaPo reports “particularly steep declines” in views toward democracy in places that are stable, peaceful, democratic, and economically thriving, such as Botswana and Tanzania.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.
Despite improvements in censuses and household surveys, the building blocks of national statistical systems in sub-Saharan Africa remain weak. Measurement of fundamentals such as births and deaths, growth and poverty, taxes and trade, land and the environment, and sickness, schooling, and safety is shaky at best. The Data for African Development Working Group’s recommendations for reaping the benefits of a data revolution in Africa fall into three categories: (1) fund more and fund differently, (2) build institutions that can produce accurate, unbiased data, and (3) prioritize the core attributes of data building blocks.