New data from Afrobarometer’s latest round of public attitude surveys provide important guideposts for U.S. policymakers and Africa analysts. Findings from 18 countries offer insights on Africans’ aspirations for sovereignty, self-sufficiency, and democratic and accountable governance—as well their inclination toward open borders and free trade rather than protectionism. They also reveal a continued preference for the United States over China as a development model, their rejection of “debt diplomacy,” and their belief that English, rather than Chinese, remains the international language of the continent’s future.
These findings come amid wide recognition that progress on democratic governance in Africa has stalled, with many African governments falling back to authoritarian practices. The effectiveness of U.S. policy has been questioned as a result, and analysts have argued that U.S. policy toward Africa needs to be updated and revitalized. This is especially true in the context of a global pandemic that has undermined African economies and livelihoods, raised threats to governance and the rule of law, and revealed the potential global implications of access to health services.
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