Following the AU – Africa Leaders Summit (4-6 August), Gallup published an interesting ‘Leaders scorecard”, ranking presidents from twenty-six sub-Saharan African countries according to their constituency’s approval ratings.
The 2013 surveys show that leaders’ job approval ratings vary greatly from country to country. While Mali’s president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita received the highest rating with 86% of those interviewed approving of his tenure, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s president Joseph Kabila ranked last with only 26%.
The polls suggest however that there is little correlation between the length of time in office and the approval ratings – Robert Mugabe and Jacob Zuma are both among leaders who received the lowest job performance rating by their constituency.
Income linked to Presidential Approval
As the poll shows, residents who live comfortably are more likely to approve of their leader’s job performance than those facing financial hardships. This seems to suggest that better-off residents are also happier with their leader because they may benefit – directly or indirectly – from their economic policies.
Generational gap and governance
Differences within individual countries become more apparent when looking at age. In the majority of the countries surveyed, residents aged 45 and over are more likely to approve of their president’s job performance than those aged 15 to 24.
In some countries however, the generational gap is more acute. In Nigeria and Kenya for example, younger residents are more likely to approve of their president’s job performance than their older counterparts.
What does the data tell us?
Gallup’s data shows that residents’ ratings of their leaders job performance vary greatly from country to country. While, in countries with the highest approval ratings, it is not clear whether residents are truly confident in their leader’s policies and abilities or just disillusioned by the lack of potential alternatives, in others, unhappy residents were not afraid to speak up and express their disappointment.
Also, as previously explained, age and job performance ratings appear to be correlated with older residents being more likely to approve of their leader’s performance than younger ones.
This should come as a warning to African presidents as Africans aged 15 to 24 make up the fastest-growing group across the continent but also the most affected by unemployment.