Trustworthy institutions play vital role in Africa’s development, new Afrobarometer findings suggest

Afrobarometer

Key findings

  • 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).
  • Popular trust in the executive institutions of the state varies considerably across African countries, from more than 80% in Niger and Burundi to less than 40% in Nigeria, Liberia, and São Tomé and Principe.
  • Institutional trust is related to perceptions of corruption. If people think that office-holders are honest, they are likely to deem an institution trustworthy – and vice versa if they think officials are self-serving.
  • Trustworthy institutions help to achieve the development outcomes that Africans say they want. For every one of the general public’s stated development priorities, trust in the state is associated with positive popular assessments of government performance.
  • Thus, socioeconomic development is not a purely technical or engineering exercise. Development outcomes also depend on good governance, which citizens assess partly in terms of whether they find political institutions trustworthy.

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The report, titled “Do trustworthy institutions matter for development?” (Afrobarometer Dispatch No.112), is available in English and French at http://globalreleases.afrobarometer.org.