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Afrobarometer Press Conference Highlights

22 Feb 2023
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Key takeaways from the Afrobarometer Press Conference

On elections in general

Africans generally support elections as the most legitimate way of choosing their leaders. But few agree that their elections are effective in holding leaders accountable.

  • On average across the first 20 countries surveyed in Round 9 (2021-2022), three-quarters (75%) of Africans say they want to choose their leaders through regular, open, and honest elections, including 50% who feel “very strongly” about this issue (Figure 1).
  • Two-thirds (66%) of Africans endorse multiparty competition as necessary to give voters real choices, while 32% say the presence of many parties just creates division and confusion (Figure 2).
  • Fewer than half (46%) of Africans say that elections work well to enable voters to remove leaders who don’t do what the people want (Figure 3). About the same proportion (42%) believe that their elections work well to ensure that representatives to Parliament reflect the views of voters.

Though many Africans rate the quality of elections in their country positively, significant proportions report negative experiences and perceptions with regard to political violence and intimidation and secret balloting.

  • Almost nine out of 10 Africans (85%) say they feel “somewhat” or “completely” free to vote for the candidates of their choice without feeling pressured, including majorities in every country (Figure 4).
  • About six in 10 Africans (58%) say their country’s most recent national election was free and fair (either “completely” or “with minor problems”) (Figure 5). About one-third say it had “major problems” (18%) or was “not free and fair” (19%).

On elections in Nigeria

Nigerians want competitive elections but don’t trust the institutions responsible for ensuring free and fair elections. The latest Afrobarometer survey reveals:

Support for competitive elections:

  • Most Nigerians (71%) support elections as the best way to choose their leaders (Figure 6).
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of citizens say that in general, it is better if power sometimes changes hands in elections from one political party to another rather than having one party continuously govern the country (Figure 7).
  • Almost seven in 10 (69%) support multiparty competition that gives voters genuine choices, a 13-point rebound since 2020 (Figure 8).

Limited role for Nigeria’s opposition parties after elections:

  • Most respondents (78%) believe that after losing an election, opposition parties should cooperate with the government to help develop the country, compared to just 21% who say the opposition’s primary task should instead be to monitor and criticise the government to hold it accountable (Figure 9).

Concerns about safety and security of the electoral environment, fear of intimidation or violence in 2019 elections:

  • Roughly one in three citizens (32%) say they feared intimidation or violence during the 2019 election (Figure 10).
  • Close to four in 10 respondents (37%) consider it likely that powerful people can find out how they vote (Figure 11).

Lack of trust in major institutions:

  • Trust in the Presidency has reached a nadir (27%), marking the lowest point in President Buhari’s tenure (Figure 12).
  • Trust in the ruling party is also low (26%), reflecting a consistently sceptical view by the public.
  • Only 23% of Nigerians say they trust the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “somewhat” or “a lot,” while three-fourths (76%) express “just a little” or no trust at all in the election-management body.
  • Trust in the INEC has declined by 12 percentage points since 2017 (Figure 13).

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Worsening economic conditions across Africa (economy, poverty, job creation)

Africans report worsening economic conditions and say job creation and management of the economy must be prioritised to reverse the trend of increasing poverty.

On the economy, food security, and poverty:

Most Africans describe their economic conditions as bad and give governments poor performance ratings on key economic issues.

  • The latest Round 9 Afrobarometer surveys reveal that a growing number of respondents are having to go without basic life necessities such as enough food, clean water, and medical care (Figure 14).
  • There have been large drops in the number of people reporting that they “never” went without food (down 14 percentage points, from 52% in 2019/2021 (Round 8) to 38% in 2021/2022 (Round 9)), clean water (down 13 points, from 53% to 40%), and medicines or medical treatment (down 15 points, from 48% to 33%).
  • The proportion of respondents reporting high levels of “lived poverty” – meaning they frequently go without these necessities – has risen steadily since 2014/2015, from one in five (19%) to one in four (26%) (Figure 15).
  • Increasing majorities give their government poor marks on job creation and economic management.

On employment and job creation:

Economic issues dominate Africans’ assessments of the continent’s most important problems that governments need to urgently address.

  • Unemployment remains the top policy priority, cited by Africans (35%), followed closely by management of the economy (34%) (Figure 16).
  • Three in 10 adults report COVID-related loss of jobs or primary income source (Figure 17).

Climate change

Awareness of climate change is not yet widespread, but among those who are aware of it, there is broad support for government action.


  • On average across 20 countries, only about half (51%) of citizens say they have heard of climate change (Figure 18).
  • Awareness is as high as 74% in Malawi, 73% in Mauritius, and 70% in Gabon, whereas only two in 10 Tunisians (22%) are aware of climate change.

Extreme weather:

  • Majorities in eight of the 20 countries report that droughts have gotten more severe over the past decade. Large majorities see worsening drought in Madagascar (86%), Niger (72%), and Tunisia (69%).

Government performance in addressing climate change:

  • On average across 20 surveyed countries, more than half of citizens (51%) give their governments failing marks on their climate-change mitigation performance. However, the governments of Benin, Togo, Niger, and Sierra Leone receive positive reviews from their citizens (Figure 19).

Call for action to limit climate change:

  • Three-fourths (74%) of those who are aware of climate change want their governments to take steps now to limit climate change, even if it is expensive, causes job losses, or takes a toll on the economy (Figure 20).

Responsibility for limiting climate change:

  • On average, across the 20 countries, citizens largely see the fight against climate change as a shared responsibility. They assign primary responsibility for limiting climate change to the government (45%), followed by ordinary citizens (31%). Only 12%, on average, place the responsibility on rich or developed nations.

View Afrobarometer’s climate change country cards here.