Skip to content

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. These goals are expected to drive national and global development agendas for the next 15 years. The 17 SDGs are linked to 169 targets, to be tracked by a proposed 230 individual indicators.


What are the Afrobarometer SDG Scorecards?

The newly developed Afrobarometer SDG Scorecards highlight citizens’ experiences and evaluations of their country’s performance on democracy and governance, poverty, health, education, energy supply, water and sanitation, inequality, gender equity, and other priorities reflected in 12 of the 17 SDGs. These citizen assessments can be compared to official UN tracking indicators. They present both summary assessments for each SDG – via blue, green, yellow, and red “stoplights” – as well as the data behind these assessments.


How can the Afrobarometer SDG Scorecards contribute to the measurement of progress toward the SGDs?

The SDGs are intended as a tool to improve the lives of real people. Numerous important indicators and scorecards are being used to track progress. The Afrobarometer SDG Scorecards are unique in highlighting the perspectives of ordinary citizens – the intended beneficiaries of the SDGs. The Afrobarometer SDG Scorecards are not intended to replace the many official indicators tracking progress toward the SDGs. Rather, they provide an additional perspective – one that is usually missing from other sources – that can be compared and contrasted with other indicators and thus enrich the discussion, help identify gaps, and support action to move forward in each country. Afrobarometer data relevant to the SDGs are especially valuable because of the frequency of collection (in survey rounds every two to three years) and the independence, quality, and reliability of the data. They can offer an independent check, from a grassroots perspective, on the data points reported by government statistics offices and other sources


Which SDGs do the Scorecards track?

The Scorecards track 12 of the 17 SDGs. With Afrobarometer’s signature focus on democracy and governance, Afrobarometer data are especially relevant to SDG #16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Afrobarometer also produces data on poverty, health, education, energy supply, water and sanitation, infrastructure, inequality, work and economic growth, corruption, climate action, gender issues and other topics. From the many AB data points that are relevant to the SDGs, we have selected one or two indicators that best capture the key objectives of each SDG. AB indicators used in the Afrobarometer SDG Scorecards are shown in the table below.


Why were these AB indicators selected?

From the many AB data points that are relevant to the SDGs, we selected one or two indicators that best capture the key objectives of each SDG (see the table above). For five of the SDGs, AB does not have compelling indicators, so these five SDGs are not part of the Afrobarometer SDG Scorecard.


What do the Scorecards show?

The Scorecards come in three parts: First is a one-page summary that uses colored circles (“stoplights”) to illustrate progress, retreat, or stagnation on each indicator over the past five years, between Afrobarometer Round 6 surveys (in 2014/2015) and Round 8 surveys (in 2019/2021). For climate action (SDG 13) and bribes for public services (SDG 16), where Round 6 data are not available, comparisons are between Round 7 (2016/2018) and Round 8 (2019/2021). The second part of the Scorecards contains 18 charts showing performance trends between Round 4 (2008/2009) and Round 8 (2019/2021). The last part of the scorecard provides detailed information on the question texts used to generate each indicator.


What do the stoplights indicate?

Red means the country’s performance worsened by >3 percentage points over the past five years Yellow means change between -3 and +3 percentage points (not statistically significant) Green means performance improved by >3 percentage points Blue means the country is already meeting this target


What do the half-stoplights mean?

Half-circles (half-green, half-red, etc.) indicate mixed results with regard to an SDG when there is more than one indicator. For instance, on SDG 4 (quality education), if the overall level of education has improved, but the gap between men and women got wider, this reflects both progress (with respect to overall education levels) and regress (with respect to gender gaps in education). The scorecard would show a green half-stoplight to reflect the progress on one indicator and a red half-stoplight to reflect regress on the other. Another example is SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), where we track five types of infrastructure. If we see improvements in some areas, but stagnation or regression in others, this will be reflected with half-stoplights in different colors.


Can the stoplights be used to compare countries?

The Scorecards are primarily intended to assess the trends in the performance of individual countries – that is, are things getting better or worse over time within that country – rather than for comparison across countries. This is because one country could be at a very low level of overall achievement, but recording progress – a green light – while another country could be at a much higher level of overall performance, but retreating – a red light. So the comparison of a green light in one country to a red light in the other does not tell the whole story. The primary focus should therefore be on 1) country-level trends, and 2) how many countries are making progress or retreating, but not on specific comparisons of overall performance across countries.


Which countries do Afrobarometer’s SDG Scorecards track?

Were the surveys conducted before or after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic? Scorecards are available or planned for all countries surveyed in Round 8 except Angola, Ethiopia, and the Gambia, where we don’t have data to measure trends over at least three survey rounds. Of the 25 countries for which findings were available as of the initial launch on 24 May 2021, 16 were surveyed before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of fieldwork in April 2020. The other nine were surveyed after Round 8 fieldwork resumed in October 2020.


What should we do if we have questions about the Scorecards?

For questions about the content of the Scorecard, please email For questions about plans for releasing the Scorecard, please email