A survey conducted by Afrobarometer has shown that good jobs and economic growth are top priorities for African citizens but governments' performances on these issues are low. The report links the “most important problems” identified by more than 45,800 Africans, as well as their assessments of their governments’ performance on these issues, to the goals of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (SGDs).
The analysis is designed to help governments and advocates design more effective interventions through a better understanding of how their intended beneficiaries, the ordinary citizens, perceive and prioritize these goals.
Explaining the findings to participants, Dr Edem Selormey, Afrobarometer Fieldwork operations Manager for West, North and East Africa said that the survey was conducted across 34 countries. It was noted that unemployment was the most important problem that Africans want their governments to address with a percentage of Fifty-Seven, followed by health, infrastructure/roads, water/sanitation, education, management of the economy, and poverty.
She said that the goal of the research is to understand what tops the list in terms of what people want and what their governments should do. The research, also showed that government performances were low where citizen's priorities were high which Dr Selormey said is an opportunity for governments to begin working in these priority areas.
She added that in Ghana, 62 per cent prioritized SDG 8 "Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all" as their number one need, followed by SDG9 "Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation” The third need was SDG number 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
In terms of age differences according to Dr Selormey, there was a significant difference between the preferences of African youth and their elders. Whereas the older generation prioritized SGDs 1 (No poverty) , SGD 2 (Zero hunger), SGD 3 ( Good health and well-being ) and SDG 6 (Clean water and Sanitation), in that order, the younger generation prioritized SDG4
(Quality education), SDG7 ( Affordable and clean energy) and SDG8 (Decent work and economic growth), also in that order. She also pointed out that men were more interested in peace, justice and infrastructure while women were interested in poverty reduction.
She noted that lower prioritized SGDs did not mean they are less importantand urged the need for more advocacy on how these factors interact with other challenges to directly affect people’s lives.
Speaking to the media, Mr George Osei-Bimpeh, Co-Chair, CSO Platform for SGDs said that there is the increasing situation where partisan politics is dividing citizens making them unable to actively engage in the development process. "Citizens must not look at which party is in power
because it affects achieving the SGDs" he said. In terms of service provision, Mr Osei-Bimpeh stated that the onus largely rests on the district assemblies to deliver services to citizens. He urged a look at domestic resources to finance SGDs and transforming the structure of the economy to respond to citizens’ demand for sustainable jobs.
Radhika Lal, Economic Advisor, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said most counties are not doing well in terms of developing jobs therefore bringing this to the attention of governments is really important. She said that the question for governments, therefore, should be
how to create jobs. She also said that it is useful to get people's perceptions on the priority areas as well as how to meet these expectations in terms of the issues that have been raised.
She stated that governments have taken the first steps in terms of aligning policies and strategies.
However, she stressed that it is necessary to look at ways to meet these goals.
Prof. Henry Kwasi Prempeh, Executive Director for CDD-Ghana said people expect governments to prioritize decent work and economic growth but they however feel government is not doing so, an indication of an implementation problem. He said that the survey shows that addressing decent work and economic growth will help to realize the other SGDs which is the kind of information Afrobarometer feels governments must have.
He said that a look at SGD Budget Report by government based on the 2018 budget indicates that they find decent work and economic growth relevant in preparing the budget. He added that citizens scored governments poorly when asked how well they feel their governments are prioritizing issues most important to them, showing a mismatch in performance.
"This therefore will help governments look at their policies and implementation again to help them fine tune their budget preparations" he said.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues across more than 30 countries in Africa. Six rounds of surveys were conducted between 1999 and 2015, and findings from Round 7 surveys (2016-2018) are currently being released.
The full report is available at www.afrobarometer.org .