July 24, 2007


In 10-nation poll, Africans see a better future (Lydia Polgreen and Marjorie Connelly, July 24, 2007, International Herald Tribune)

Despite a thicket of troubles, from deadly illnesses like AIDS and malaria to corrupt politicians and deep-seated poverty, a plurality of Africans say they are better off today than they were five years ago and are optimistic about their future and that of the next generation, according to a poll conducted in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa by The New York Times and the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

The poll results offer an unusual and complex portrait of a continent in flux, a snapshot of 10 key modern African states as they struggle to build accountable governments, manage violent conflict and turn their natural resources into wealth for the population.

It found that in the main, Africans are satisfied with their national governments and a majority of respondents in seven of the 10 countries said their economic situation was at least somewhat good. But many said that they face a wide array of difficult and sometimes life-threatening problems, from illegal drug trafficking to political corruption, from the lack of clean water to inadequate schools for their children, from ethnic and political violence to deadly disease.

Face-to-face interviews were conducted in April and May in Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The survey sampled nationwide adult populations except in South Africa, which was completely urban, and the Ivory Coast, which was disproportionately urban. The margins of sampling error were plus or minus either 3 or 4 percentage points.

The data reveal that the struggle for democracy and good governance in Africa is more like a patchwork of gains and setbacks than a steady tide of progress across a continent that has suffered some of the worst instances of misrule. While all of the countries surveyed are nominally democracies, half of them have suffered serious rollbacks of multiparty government in recent years. A majority in each country said corrupt political leaders are a big problem.

Can any continental Europeans see a better future?

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 24, 2007 9:08 PM
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