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  • Author: Loubna Marfouk, Martin Sarvas, Jack Wippell, Jintao Zhu
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: This paper explores the presence of politically sourced sensitivity bias, which leads respondents to report alternative answers to their true beliefs, in Afrobarometer’s survey results. To this end, we run a set of regressions on Afrobarometer Round 7 data to explore mechanisms through which the perceived sponsor of the survey is associated with response patterns related to trust in political parties. Questions regarding individuals’ trust levels in political parties are prone to sensitivity bias insofar as political concerns can lead respondents to favour a certain response for strategic reasons. Moreover, if respondents believe that answers will be shared with the perceived sponsor of the interview, they are likely to tailor their answers to what they judge is the preferred answer of their perceived survey sponsor. We find a number of statistically significant results that suggest some sensitivity bias is present in the survey responses. In particular, we show that there are statistically significant differences in responses for self-reported trust in both opposition and ruling parties when the respondent perceives the government to be the survey sponsor compared to when they perceive the sponsor to be Afrobarometer. We also explore how these responses vary by country- specific characteristics, such as regime type. Reducing respondents’ variation in perception of the survey sponsor might alleviate biases throughout Afrobarometer’s interviews, and a set of methodological changes might mitigate the effects of this sensitivity bias in future surveys. While other studies have focused on potential bias from interviewer effects, our research suggests a new avenue for research, in Africa and beyond, on respondent perceptions of sponsorship.
  • Topic: Governance, Research, Political Parties, Survey
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Alexander Stoecker
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: While past studies have put forward many reasons why partisanship in young African democracies should be considered weak and meaningless, this paper casts doubt on this notion by presenting evidence of strong and stable patterns of partisanship among ordinary citizens. Based on survey data from Ghana, I exploit the variation introduced by the political turnovers of 2008 and 2016 to compare perceptions and attitudes of party supporters when their preferred party is in power and when it is not. The results indicate a pronounced partisan divide, suggesting that partisanship is meaningful and prompts motivated reasoning among citizens. On the one hand this can be seen as evidence for a stable party landscape and thus a more mature democracy, but on the other hand partisan polarization may also obstruct effective governance. Furthermore, the analysis of attitudes toward democratic principles uncovers a worrying double standard that could negatively affect the consolidation of democracy. A simple heterogeneity analysis reveals that while partisan identities seem to exist alongside ethnic identities, the latter still strongly determine the strength of party attachment in Ghana. Future research on political behaviour needs to acknowledge the presence of these partisan motives and continue to investigate the impact of partisanship on the further development of democratic institutions in African democracies.
  • Topic: Democracy, Ethnicity, Political Parties, Identity, Partisanship
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana
  • Author: Joseph Kone
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: Since the end of its civil war in 2011 and the installation of President Alassane Dramane Ouattara, Côte d’Ivoire has seen one of the highest rates of economic growth in Africa, sometimes referred to as a new “Ivoirian miracle” (Dionne & Bamba, 2017). As the economy has grown and the state has rebuilt capacity, tax revenues have increased steadily, growing by 37% between 2013 and 2017. In many African states, «import and export taxes constitute the backbone of tax regimes. Revenues are supplemented by indirect taxes, in the form of excise and sales taxes» (D’Arcy, 2011). In the case of Côte d’Ivoire, the government relies heavily on taxes on the export of cocoa and other agricultural products, in addition to taxes on industrial and commercial profits, income, telecommunications, petroleum products, imports, as well as a value-added tax (Ministère du Budget et du Portefeuille de l’Etat, 2020). Even in states with high levels of coercive capacity, citizens’ willingness to pay taxes is a significant determinant of revenues collected. This willingness becomes even more important in contexts of relatively low state capacity, such as has existed in post-conflict Côte d’Ivoire. In fact, a substantial – and growing – proportion of Ivoirians question the state’s right to collect taxes, a fact that could present a significant challenge to the government’s ability to collect revenues in order to rebuild essential state services and avoid excessive debt. This paper focuses on a particular form of tax non-compliance: tax disobedience, or individuals’ refusal to pay taxes and fees as a form of protest. Specifically, it examines several individual-level factors that might be associated with tax disobedience, including lack of a cash income, assessments of public services and elected representatives, accessibility of information, and effective connections with the Ivoirian nation. Our analyses of data from the Afrobarometer Round 7 survey (2017) suggest that some of the conventional wisdom on tax compliance is not supported in the case of tax disobedience in Côte d’Ivoire. While we find, as expected, that individuals who think state performance is improving in delivering key services are less likely to express a willingness to engage in tax disobedience, we find no such link with lived poverty; poorer Ivoirians are no more or less likely than their wealthier counterparts to endorse tax disobedience. Surprisingly, assessments of elected representatives and of corruption in the tax system are not significantly associated with tax disobedience, either. Perceived access to government information and identification with the Ivoirian nation do show associations with tax disobedience, but these links run counter to our expectations: Citizens who think they could access information held by public bodies are significantly more likely to say they engaged or would engage in tax disobedience, as are people who identify more closely with the nation than with their ethnic group. These analyses suggest the need for more research on a crucial question facing African states: Who pays taxes, and who doesn’t?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Tax Systems, Revenue Management, Tax Evasion
  • Political Geography: Africa, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Author: Carolyn Logan, Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye Sanny, Kangwook Han
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set ambitious targets for countries and societies to improve lives and livelihoods around the world. While the expectations of meeting these goals largely fall on governments, it is widely recognized that joint efforts by citizens and their governments will be needed to achieve the best outcomes. Citizen action takes place in many forms and forums, including organizing and working together on shared goals, providing mutual support and assistance, campaigning or advocating for shared needs, and engaging with governments, making demands on them, and holding them to account. While some citizens may become involved in a formal capacity, such as through paid employment in nongovernmental advocacy or service organizations and through employment with governments or other service providers, large numbers will – and must – be engaged in a voluntary capacity. Understanding the nature of this voluntary engagement is a key goal of this analysis. Advocates of volunteerism in Africa have been plagued by a lack of data on who engages in voluntary service, how much they contribute, in what formats, and what the outcomes are. Only a handful of governments have collected data on this topic. Yet our ability to foster and build support for volunteerism is partly dependent on how well we understand the ways people are already engaging every day in these critical but uncompensated contributions in pursuit of the public good. Afrobarometer data can help to fill this void. Although Afrobarometer has not collected data with the explicit aim of studying volunteerism, for more than 20 years it has captured extensive, nationally representative data on respondents’ levels of political and civic participation (much of which can be classed as volunteerism) across seven rounds of surveys in 38 countries. This includes membership in religious and civic organizations and participation in individual and collective efforts to engage with leaders and to voice community needs. In particular, in addition to membership in associations, Afrobarometer tracks the contact of respondents with political and community leaders, their attendance at community meetings, and their efforts to join with others to address issues or express their views. These kinds of civic engagement are the cornerstone of volunteerism to solve problems and improve lives. Understanding who engages, under what circumstances, and why provides a foundation on which to more effectively promote civic engagement and volunteerism in pursuit of the SDGs and other development objectives. This paper explores Afrobarometer data on civic engagement with four main goals: specify how Afrobarometer indicators of civic engagement link to core understandings of volunteerism and its various typologies; map profiles and patterns of the people who engage in volunteerism, especially at the country level; model voluntary civic engagement to identify the key factors and contexts that facilitate or inhibit it at both the individual and country levels; and use these profiles and models to identify entry points for activists who want to foster or support voluntary civic engagement. Our analysis identifies several factors that shape voluntary civic engagement, from socio- demographic ones such as education and wealth to citizens’ socio-political engagement, their personal sense of efficacy, and their overall trust in their governments. Country contexts are important, as we see wide cross-country differences in levels of volunteerism. Among other aspects, wealthier countries, on average, report less volunteerism, while democracies report more. We have found evidence that confronting unmet needs – whether one’s own or those of others – is a major motivating factor of voluntary engagement. These findings suggest a number of opportunities and entry points for increasing citizen engagement. The paper is organized in four parts. Part A begins with a discussion of knowledge on volunteerism and participation, highlighting the lack of evidence and data sources on Africa and how civic engagement intersects with volunteerism. Part B develops descriptive profiles of the participants in voluntary civic engagement. Part C explores key driving factors at the individual and country levels. The final section presents recommendations for acting on these findings.
  • Topic: Development, Sustainable Development Goals, Sustainability, Civic Engagement
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Daniel Armah-Attoh
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: This paper describes high levels of intolerance in Ghana toward persons in same-sex relationships, explores factors driving this intolerance, and makes some policy recommendations for increasing tolerance. Using 2014 Afrobarometer survey data, the descriptive analysis reveals that large majorities of Ghanaians reject persons in same-sex relationships as neighbours, co-workers, supervisors, and members of their religious group; would report them to the police; and would support criminalizing same-sex activity. Regression analysis shows that religion, religiosity, age, and rural residence are associated with higher intolerance, while education and mediated social contact measured by social media and Internet use are associated with reduced intolerance. Among these drivers of intolerance and tolerance, we argue that education is the main factor that lends itself to meaningful remedial policy interventions and recommend a number of formal and informal education and sensitization measures aimed at reducing Ghanaians’ intolerance of people of different sexual orientation or identity.
  • Topic: Education, Gender Issues, Repression, Sexuality, Tolerance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana
  • Author: Matthias Krönke, Sarah J. Lockwood, Robert Mattes
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: The conventional view holds that most of Africa’s political parties are organizationally weak, with little grassroots presence. Yet few studies are based on systematically collected data about more than a handful of parties or countries at any given point. In this paper, we focus on one crucial aspect of party organization – the local presence that enables political parties to engage with and mobilize voters – and use Afrobarometer data to develop the Party Presence Index, the first systematic, cross-national measure of local party presence in Africa. We then apply the index to a series of substantive questions, confirming its value and demonstrating its potential to add significantly to our understanding of grassroots party organization.
  • Topic: Governance, Democracy, Local, Political Parties, Community
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Ronald Makanga Kakumba
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: Mob justice is a form of extrajudicial punishment or retribution in which a person suspected of wrongdoing is typically humiliated, beaten, and in many cases killed by vigilantes or a crowd. Mob action takes place in the absence of any form of fair trial in which the accused are given a chance to defend themselves; the mob simply takes the law into its own hands (Ng’walali & Kitinya, 2006). Mob justice is not only criminal but also amounts to a violation of human rights (Uganda Human Rights Commission, 2016). Over the past decade, Uganda has seen a significant rise in the number of cases of mob justice. According to the Uganda Police Force’s (2013-2019) annual crime reports, 746 deaths by mob action were reported and investigated in 2019, compared to 426 in 2013, a 75% increase. “Mob kills 42 in 7 weeks,” the Daily Monitor (2019) reported in March 2019, citing police figures – an average of six lynchings a week. Homicides by mob action in Uganda occur mainly in response to thefts, robberies, killings, and reports of witchcraft (Uganda Police Force, 2018). According to the 2015 Afrobarometer survey in Uganda, one in six Ugandan adults said they took part in mob justice during the preceding year or would do so if they “had the chance.” This suggests that mob justice is not just a fringe problem in Uganda but commands attention and requires collective action. Why would a substantial number of Ugandans resort to taking the law into their own hands as an alternative form of “justice”? Analysts have pointed to a number of factors that might contribute to a willingness to engage in mob justice. One is a lack of trust in the formal criminal justice system to administer fair and timely justice. A 2005 study in Uganda showed that mob actions were often motivated by widespread suspicion or misunderstanding of the justice system, especially concerning the procedure of police bail, under which suspected culprits can be temporarily released before the court process (Baker, 2005). A study in southern Nigeria also reported that a lack of trust in the police was one of the motivations for the alarming incidence of “jungle justice” (Obarisiagbon, 2018). Research has also shown that personal victimization by crime can have a lasting impact on attitudes toward the police, the courts, and the criminal justice system overall (Berthelot, McNeal, & Baldwin, 2018; Dull & Wint, 1997; Koenig, 1980; Sprott & Doob, 1997), as can negative personal experiences with the courts (Olson & Huth, 1998; Kanaabi, 2004). Amid Uganda’s surge in mob justice, Afrobarometer findings tell us that popular trust in the police and courts has been declining while citizens’ perceptions of corruption in these criminal justice institutions has been rising. Statistical analyses show that a lack of trust in the police is associated with a willingness to engage in mob justice, while perceived corruption undermines trust and thus indirectly contributes to a willingness to join others in mob actions. Further, our analysis finds that being a victim of crime (physical assault), encountering problems in the court system, finding it hard to obtain police assistance, and having to pay a bribe to police or court officials are factors that make people more likely to say they would take part in mob action against suspected criminals. Based on these findings, we offer recommendations to mitigate Uganda’s growing problem of mob justice.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Courts, Police, Justice, Bribery
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa
  • Author: Thomas Isbell, Batlang Seabo
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: Corruption is widely considered one of the greatest impediments to sustainable development in African countries (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2016; Bratton & Gyimah-Boadi, 2016). Corruption hinders macro-economic growth by weakening governance structures and diluting the positive effects of investments. At the micro level, corruption can trap the poorest, who are least likely to have alternatives to state provision of services, in a downward spiral (Peiffer & Rose, 2014). Botswana has long been considered one of Africa’s least corrupt countries and top performers in democratic practice and good governance. But while Transparency International’s (2019) Corruption Perceptions Index continues to rank Botswana as best on the continent, other observers have questioned this reputation (Mogalakwe & Nyamnjoh, 2017; Good, 2017). Allegations have focused on, among other things, high-level corruption in military procurement contracts under former President Ian Khama, close ties between members of the ruling party and the agricultural sector, and charges that well-connected suspects are often cleared by the courts (Motlogelwa & Civillini, 2016; Konopo, 2017; Good, 2017; Norad, 2011; Sebudubudu 2014; Gasennelwe, 2018). Recent corruption scandals have reached the highest levels of government, including the alleged looting of the National Petroleum Fund (Kgalemang, 2019; Motshegwa, Mutonono, & Mikazhu, 2019), and are still before courts of law (Shuma, 2020). In this paper we use Afrobarometer survey data to explore citizens’ perceptions of corruption in Botswana. We find that far more people see corruption increasing than decreasing and that perceptions of corruption in the Presidency and Parliament have risen sharply over the past decade. Fewer Batswana approve of how the government is handling the anti-corruption fight, and while many believe ordinary people can help fight corruption, a majority say that people risk retaliation if they report corruption to the authorities. A correlation analysis suggests that perceptions of corruption, especially in the Presidency, are strongly associated with less popular trust in public institutions and less satisfaction with democracy.
  • Topic: Corruption, Governance, Democracy, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: Africa, Botswana
  • Author: Robert Mattes, Carolyn Logan, E. Gyimah-Boadi, George Ellison
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: Not only did the COVID-19 disease arrive on Africa’s shores (and at its airports) later than in Asia, Europe, and North America (Loembé et al., 2020), but for months the numbers of infections and deaths also appeared to remain relatively low. As of early August, the continent had experienced more than 1 million confirmed cases and 23,000 deaths (Africa CDC, 2020), though these figures were increasing rapidly. At this point, the causes behind Africa’s comparatively low initial numbers are not completely clear. One reason may be that early and decisive responses on the part of many African governments prevented the virus from gaining an easy foothold (Beech, Rubin, Kurmanaev, & MacLean, 2020; Hirsch, 2020; Levinson, 2020; Moore, 2020; Loembé et al., 2020). Indeed, according to the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (2020), 46 African countries took some form of official action – in the form of new legislation or executive orders and decrees – restricting or banning travel and public gatherings, enforcing quarantines, or in some cases imposing full “lockdowns.” But Africa, somewhat paradoxically, may also have benefited from a range of structural factors, such as the continent’s relatively limited international exposure, its relatively low rates of intra- and inter-state air travel (Marbot, 2020), a generally hot and humid climate, relatively lower levels of population density and urbanization (De Waal, 2020; Marbot, 2020), and its substantially younger populations (Binding, 2020). It may have also profited from cultural factors, such as the fact that older people tend to remain with their families, rather than being institutionalized in retirement homes (Marbot, 2020), though this also has consequences for residential density, or that it has a more collectivist, less individualistic culture, which, according to recent research, may make COVID-19 interventions more effective (Frey, Presidente, & Chen, 2020). Yet most public health experts remain wary, and still expect significant further transmission of the virus across the continent, requiring drastic public health responses and interventions, especially where governments eased initial restrictions and lockdowns. Indeed, some officials have expressed concerns that Africa’s low numbers merely reflect very low rates of testing (Sly, 2020) and even, in some countries such as Tanzania, deliberate under-reporting (BBC, 2020). Some press reports have described instances where local reports of death rates bear little relation to official data (MacLean, 2020; York, 2020). These concerns appear well-founded given that community transmission is now present in all African countries and the number of infections increased by 50%, and deaths by 22%, in the last two weeks of July (World Health Organization, 2020). And officials at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have warned that Africa could well become the next epicenter of the pandemic (Loembé et al., 2020). If, as these events suggest, early interventions in African countries successfully erected a wall that kept the virus at bay, albeit temporarily, how well prepared are these countries if and when the virus penetrates their initial defenses? A wealth of Afrobarometer survey data suggests that Africans are especially vulnerable, in part due to lack of access to clean water and adequate health care (Gyimah-Boadi & Logan, 2020a; Logan, Howard, & Gyimah-Boadi, 2020). In this paper, we attempt to take the issue of vulnerability a step further by developing a more fine-grained approach, using insights from public health to examine different dimensions and components of vulnerability (Morrell, 2018). Specifically, we develop three inter-connected indices intended to capture the extent to which Africans might 1) run a heightened “risk of exposure to infection,” 2) face a heightened “susceptibility to illness” (once infected), and 3) face a “lack of resilience” (to recover once they become ill). In addition, a fourth index of “lockdown readiness” estimates the proportion of people who are more (or less) likely to be able to withstand the most severe forms of government health interventions, i.e. lockdowns or “shelter in place” orders, We then demonstrate how cross-country variations in the extent of exposure and susceptibility, and in the degree to which people are prepared for a lockdown, might help us better understand policy choices that African governments have made, and the extent to which these interventions were able to achieve desired reductions in mobility and contact. Finally, we briefly explore some of the soft assets that governments can bring to the table, such as legitimacy and trust, that may help increase compliance with restrictions on mobility, especially in countries we have identified as least able to tolerate lockdowns.
  • Topic: Governance, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Matthias Krönke
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: According to UNESCO (2020), approximately 1.2 billion students and youth worldwide are affected by school and university closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To adjust to these new circumstances, governments must develop innovative solutions to ensure inclusive learning opportunities during this period of unprecedented educational disruption. This is especially true in African countries, where despite recent progress traditional education has faced infrastructural challenges and struggled to develop the human resources necessary to address students’ educational needs (Krönke & Olan’g, 2020; United Nations, 2019; UNESCO Institute of Statistics, 2016. This policy paper uses Afrobarometer survey data to look at digital infrastructure, the availability of digital devices at the household level, and digital literacy among African adults. While rates of digital literacy among children are likely to differ, it is important to understand these dynamics among adults for at least two reasons. First, adults are likely to shape children’s access to and experience with technology. Second, understanding current levels of access to devices and levels of digital literacy among adults provides a baseline against which future assessments can measure progress over time. Survey findings from Afrobarometer Round 7 (2016/2018) show a substantial digital divide both across and within countries, reflected in uneven access to resources such as electricity and unequal access to and use of smartphones and computers. The results suggest that government efforts to redress widespread inequalities need to be increased drastically to avoid the widening of an education gap among their citizens. The paper also discusses the potential benefits of providing smartphones and computers to those who currently do not have access to such devices.
  • Topic: Education, Infrastructure, Inequality, Digital Economy, Digitalization
  • Political Geography: Africa