Good jobs and economic growth top the priorities of African citizens, but government performance on these issues lags, according to new Afrobarometer findings from across the continent.
Gender makes headlines in Tanzania, as when the president attacks birth control and endorses kicking pregnant girls out of school or when fake fingernails and eyelashes are banned from Parliament (Guardian, 2017, 2018a, 2018b).
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Popular support for a free news media has declined significantly in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania – three countries currently making headlines for government attempts to limit press freedom.
Recent Afrobarometer surveys show that the proportion of respondents who say the government “should have the right to prevent the media from publishing things that it considers harmful to society” has risen sharply in Tanzania and Uganda, and more modestly in Kenya, over the past five years. At the same time, fewer citizens say they feel free to express their opinions.
This paper asks whether a country’s choice of electoral system affects the methods citizens use to try to hold their government accountable. A large body of literature suggests that electoral system type has an impact on voting behaviour, but little work has been done on its effects on other strategies for democratic accountability, such as contacting an elected representative and protesting. Using data from 36 African countries, we find that the type of electoral system has a significant relationship with these forms of participation.
While personal insecurity in Africa is typically associated with civil wars, crime is actually a far more common threat to the continent’s citizens. Rates of homicide, sexual assault, and property crime in Africa are often far higher than global averages. Despite such threats, many Africans do not report crimes to the police.
In this paper, we provide evidence on how the provision of social infrastructure such as reliable electricity can be leveraged to increase taxation in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). First, using comprehensive data from the latest round of the Afrobarometer survey, we estimate, via the instrumental variable approach, the effect of access and reliability of electricity on tax compliance attitudes of citizens in 36 SSA countries.
In addition to the growing number of African states that conduct regular elections and embed democratic principles in their constitutions, evidence comes from survey-based research that most Africans support democratic values and reward governments that adhere to democratic rules (Mattes & Bratton, 2007; Bratton & Mattes, 2001). However, in many countries, citizen demand for democracy is not met by supply of democracy (Mattes & Bratton, 2016) as governments, once elected, fail to respect the norms of democratic governance (Gyimah-Boadi, 2015).
Afrobarometer Round 7
Survey in Tanzania, 2017.
Over the past two decades, Africa has recorded high levels of economic growth. Tanzania has enjoyed Africa’s second-fastest-growing economy, behind Côte d'Ivoire, including average annual growth of almost 7% between 2012 and 2016 (International Monetary Fund, 2016).
At a glance
Direction of the country: majority of Tanzanians believe the country is going in the right direction and the government is handling the economy well.
Country’s economic situation: many Tanzanians say the country’s economic situation is worse than a year ago.
Optimism about future: the number of citizens that think that things will get better has almost doubled.
Basic necessities: a growing number of Tanzanians report going without basic necessities.
Most Tanzanians believe the country is going in the right direction and the government is doing well in handling the economy. This is according to the most recent Afrobarometer survey, which is quite an improvement from their perceptions in 2014.
Majority of Tanzanians also say the country’s economic situation in 2017 was worse than a year ago. But the proportion of respondents who are optimistic that things will improve in a year’s time has almost doubled since 2014.
Round 7 questionnaire for Tanzania.
At a glance
Level of corruption: Seven in 10 Tanzanians say the level of corruption has decreased “somewhat” or “a lot” over the past year.
Corruption in key public institutions: has declined for all public institutions measured in 2014 and 2017.
Reporting corruption: is still a challenge, with many citizens fearing retribution.
Trust in government institutions: has declined for some institutions despite decrease in perceived corruption.
Most Tanzanians say corruption has decreased over the past year, a sharp reversal of public perceptions just three years ago, according to the most recent Afrobarometer survey.
Popular perceptions of corruption in key public institutions have declined across the board, and the proportion of Tanzanians who approve of the way the government is handling the war on corruption has almost doubled since in 2014.
Popular perceptions of corruption in Tanzania’s public institutions have declined significantly, including for four agencies that are key to the fight against corruption: the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), the Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau (PCCB), the judiciary, and the police.
According to Afrobarometer’s latest survey, perceptions of corruption in these four agencies have declined by double-digit percentage points in the period 2014-2017.
But public trust in these institutions has not (yet) shown comparable improvements.
The government of the United Republic of Tanzania has stepped up its game against corruption, with greater publicization of anti-corruption efforts, shored-up law enforcement, increased judiciary budgets, and expedited adjudication of corruption cases (John, 2016; Daily News, 2017; Citizen, 2016; Guardian, 2017).
In any economy, balancing expenditures, revenues, and debts is a delicate and often politicized task. Competing interests and priorities buffet those tasked with planning a viable and stable national budget. For any state, taxes raised from individuals and businesses are a central plinth supporting the provision of services, the maintenance of infrastructure, the employment of civil servants, and the smooth functioning of the state.
Because of a perceived risk of repressive action, some survey questions are likely sensitive in more autocratic countries while less so in more democratic countries. Yet survey data on potentially sensitive topics are frequently used in comparative research despite concerns about comparability.
In most African countries, substantial barriers still inhibit citizens’ access to justice, a new Afrobarometer analysis finds.
Based on a special access-to-justice module in national surveys in 36 African countries, the sobering report identifies long delays, high costs, corruption, the complexity of legal processes, and a lack of legal counsel as major obstacles for citizens seeking legal remedies.
Dozens of African countries regularly conduct national and local elections.
Each election picks a winner.
But beyond winners and losers, the quality of each election also shapes how people feel about their political system in general.
Free and fair elections make people want more democracy.
Elections tainted by repression, fraud, or violence have the opposite effect.
So how good are Africa’s elections?
Afrobarometer surveyed more than 53,000 citizens in 36 countries, in every region of Africa.
A decade-long upward trend in African citizens’ demand for democracy has ended with a downward turn since 2012, according to a new Afrobarometer analysis.
But despite warning signs of a democratic recession, public demand for democracy remains higher than a decade ago, and most Africans still say they want more democracy than they’re actually getting – a good basis for future democratic gains.
One important factor: the quality of elections. African countries with high-quality elections are more likely to show increases in popular demand for democracy.
Tanzania’s heated debate over a proposed Media Services Bill regulating the news media plays out against a backdrop of strong public support for journalists’ “watchdog” role and some of the highest ratings of media effectiveness and integrity in Africa, Afrobarometer survey findings show.
A majority of Tanzanians favour a media free of government interference, although this support has dropped sharply in recent years. Public support for the media’s role in monitoring the government remains strong, as do citizen assessments of the media’s performance.
- On average across 36 African countries, China is the second-most-popular model for national development (cited by 24% of respondents), trailing only the United States of America (30%). About one in 10 respondents prefer their former colonial power (13%) or South Africa (11%) as a model.
- Across 36 African countries, fewer than half of respondents say they trust their MPs (48%) and local councillors (46%) “somewhat” or “a lot.” Among 12 public institutions and leaders, MPs and local councillors rank eighth and ninth in public trust.
Only half of Africans trust their national electoral commissions, and many fear violence and unfair practices during election campaigns, according to a new report by Afrobarometer.
- Across 36 countries in 2014/2015, Africans express more trust in informal institutions such as religious and traditional leaders (72% and 61% respectively) than in the formal executive agencies of the state (on average 54%).
- That said, people find certain executive agencies, such as the national army and the state presidency, to be quite trustworthy (64% and 57% respectively), especially when compared with legislative and electoral institutions (47% and 44% respectively).