Afrobarometer’s board chair, senior advisers, and directors of analysis and surveys met in Lilongwe, Malawi, to kick-start the 10th cycle of Afrobarometer surveys. Word by word, phrase by phrase, and sentence by sentence, the Afrobarometer team scrutinised dozens of questions as part of a week-long process that started on 9 January.
Afrobarometer (AB), a pan-African non-partisan research organisation, has provided, over the past two decades, reliable data to document African citizens’ experiences, evaluations, and aspirations on democracy, governance, and quality of life.
“The questionnaire committee meeting is important because it brings together the core Afrobarometer leadership and some senior advisers who provide a technical backstop to help us through the big-picture issues on the continent and globally that we should be focusing on. That is relevant for policy and decision making,” AB chief executive officer Joseph Asunka says.
Afrobarometer questionnaires include standard questions tracked over time, covering signature topics – democracy and governance – and many others around corruption, access to services and infrastructure, and government and leadership performance. The 10th round, the CEO forecasts, will continue to highlight issues of climate change, elections, and health.
“There’s much talk about climate change. A lot of countries on the continent have faced droughts and flooding. So if we are going into the next round, we need to cover climate change because it is a global and African issue,” Asunka further indicates.
With ten presidential elections slated in Africa in 2023, “we will have questions to determine the people’s priorities. So we want to put the duty before the candidates to make sure that they know what citizens’ priorities are,” Asunka notes.
For his part, Afrobarometer director of surveys Boniface Dulani argues that although many surveys are conducted in African countries, Afrobarometer stands out.
“Afrobarometer is the only organisation that does surveys on governance and a range of topics. Stakeholders also solicit the resources themselves. Products that come out from Afrobarometer are public goods. Political parties, government, the media, and non- governmental organisations can use this as a rich resource available to them at no cost,” Dulani says.
Outlining the Afrobarometer vision, Asunka says the plan is to spread the surveys beyond the stretches of the 39 countries that AB has covered so far. At this pace and with the credibility the organisation has gained over the years, it is just a matter of time before the aspirations transition into reality.