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News release

Africans’ bleak views of economic conditions match their escalating experience of poverty, Afrobarometer surveys find

28 May 2024
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News release
Key findings
  • On average across 39 countries surveyed between late 2021 and mid-2023, unemployment and management of the economy top the list of the most important problems that Africans want their government to address, along with health (Figure 1). o Across 31 countries surveyed consistently since 2014/2015, the proportion of citizens citing management of the economy among their top priorities has more than doubled.
  • About two-thirds (65%) of citizens assess their country’s economic condition as "fairly bad" or "very bad" (Figure 2). More than half (52%) also hold gloomy views of their personal living conditions.
  • On average across 31 countries surveyed consistently since 2014/2015, negative reviews of the country’s economic condition have risen by 15 percentage points, and those of personal living conditions by 7 points (Figure 3).
  • Citizens are divided as to whether economic conditions will get better (40%) or worse (35%) over the next 12 months.
  • Eight in 10 respondents (81%) say they or a family member went without a cash income at least once during the previous year, including 43% who did so “many times” or “always” (Figure 4). o Two-thirds (65%) report having gone without medical care at least once, and about six in 10 suffered shortages of food (59%) and water (56%).
  • Six in 10 Africans (61%) experienced moderate or high lived poverty during the past year. o Moderate-to-high lived poverty has been increasing and affected majorities in all but eight of 39 surveyed countries, including more than eight in 10 citizens in Congo-Brazzaville (86%), Mauritania (84%), Niger (84%), and Cameroon (81%).
  • Only a quarter (26%) of Africans say their governments are doing “fairly well” or “very well” in managing the economy (Figure 5). o Even fewer give their governments passing marks for their efforts to improve the living standards of the poor (22%), create jobs (20%), narrow income gaps (16%), and keep prices stable (12%).

Africans’ concerns about economic management have surged in recent years, placing the issue second only to unemployment among the top priorities that citizens want their government to address, the latest Afrobarometer Pan-Africa Profile shows.

Based on surveys in 39 African countries between late 2021 and mid-2023, the analysis shows that citizens offer increasingly gloomy appraisals of their country’s economic condition and their personal living conditions, and fewer than half expect things to improve in the near future.

In growing numbers, Africans report going without basic necessities such as a cash income, medical care, food, and water. In most surveyed countries, majorities are experiencing moderate or high lived poverty, and citizens’ ratings on key indicators of their government’s economic performance are bleak and getting worse.