Africans See Progress - Though Uneven - in Government Delivery of Basic Services (Afrobarometer)

press release

Accra, Ghana — Africans see more improvement than decline in their governments' delivery of basic public services, according to new Afrobarometer survey findings from across the continent.

Though uneven, progress is reported in the state's provision of education, medical care, identity documents, and police assistance. On average across 34 surveyed countries, service delivery is most often seen as easy to access, timely, courteous, and responsive to complaints. But countries vary greatly in popular assessments of government performance, and petty corruption is still a frequent experience.

An analysis of survey responses shows that three main factors drive whether Africans see their governments as getting better or worse at delivering services: how easy or difficult the service was to obtain, whether officials will respond to complaints, and whether citizens had to pay a bribe.

The analysis, available at www.afrobarometer.org, is the fourth of Afrobarometer's Pan-Africa Profiles based on 45,823 interviews in all regions of Africa.

Key findings:

- On average across 34 countries, majorities of Africans who had contact with key public services during the previous year report that access to public education, identity documents, medical care, and police assistance is "easy." Household utilities are regarded as more "difficult" to obtain.

- In general, service delivery is seen as quite timely; slightly more people report receiving services after "short" rather than "long" delays. But citizens disagree over the timeliness of police assistance; when compared with other services, police assistance is more likely to occur either "right away" or "never."

- A majority of Africans say the treatment they receive from public officials is courteous.

- Africans are about twice as likely to report paying a bribe for police assistance (26%) as for school (15%) or medical (13%) services.

- If they report misconduct by schoolteachers or a crime, most Africans think it's likely they will get "someone to take action." But when reporting corruption, a positive outcome is widely seen as "not likely."

- Overall, Africans are more likely to see improvements than deterioration in state delivery of key public services. But on average fewer than one in five citizens see simultaneous improvements in the performance of all three of the state agencies charged with public safety, education, and medical care.

- In explaining perceived improvement in state delivery of public services, three factors matter: ease of access, responsiveness to complaints, and - most importantly - not having to pay a bribe.

Survey background

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in African countries. Six rounds of surveys were conducted between 1999 and 2015, and Round 7 survey findings in 34 countries are being released in 2018/2019. Interested readers may follow Afrobarometer releases, including its Pan-Africa Profiles series of cross-country analyses, at #VoicesAfrica and sign up for its distribution list at www.afrobarometer.org.

Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent's choice with nationally representative samples. Sample sizes of 1,200-2,400 yield country-level results with a margin of sampling error of +/-2 to 3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

For more information, please see www.afrobarometer.org.

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