The Afrobarometer vision is to create a regularly updated data bank of public opinion surveys in a range of African countries, all sustained by a Network of like-minded and capable African institutions. To achieve this vision, the project aims to strengthen institutional capacities in all aspects of survey research. The project’s approach to capacity building is a mutual one: to exchange various survey skills among African institutions, to transfer relevant survey technologies from outside Africa, and to assist non-African institutions to adapt survey methods and interpret survey results in the light of African realities.
The main vehicles for increasing the strength of the Afrobarometer network are periodic Planning and Capacity-Building Workshops, Afrobarometer Fellowships for individual study and training, Technical Assistance Exchanges and Mentoring Exchanges for the provision of one-on-one training, mentoring and support, and the Afrobarometer Summer Schools, which provide in depth training in data analysis and reporting. These activities aim to continually strengthen the myriad skills needed to sustain an ongoing program of survey research, analysis and outreach. These skills include both the technical aspects of survey research (e.g., questionnaire design, sampling, interviewer training, electronic data capture and management, statistical analysis, report preparation, and the presentation of results) and related managerial skills (fundraising, budgeting, team recruitment, field logistics, and financial reporting). In each case, our objective is to have all participants leave each Workshop, Fellowship, Technical Assistance Exchange or Summer School with some new skills.
The flagship of Afrobarometer’s programmes are two Afrobarometer Summer Schools -- an Anglophone Summer School hosted at the University of Cape Town by the Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa in South Africa, and a Francophone Summer School hosted by IREEP/ASE in Cotonou, Benin.
Participants at both Summer Schools are trained in a wide range of subjects, with an emphasis on introductory and advanced statistics and their application to the analysis of Afrobarometer survey data on topics related to democracy and governance. During these one-month in depth courses, participants gain the substantive knowledge and the analytical capacity to make use of the survey data and communicate their findings to audiences that include policy makers, international donors, media, civil society organizations and activists, and academics, as well as ordinary Africans.
The Afrobarometer also awards Afrobarometer Fellowships to staff and partners in the Network. Fellowships can support a variety of individualized training opportunities, including: additional intensive and advanced statistics training (for example, at the ICPSR or ISR summer programs at the University of Michigan in the US); training courses on substantive topics covered by the Afrobarometer (e.g., the International Politics Summer School at Oxford); or “writing sabbaticals” that enable recipients to collaborate with colleagues on analysis and finalize of briefs and working papers.