U.S. leadership approval declines in Africa, but still ahead of China’s

08 Aug 2015
Financial Nigeria


Approval of U.S. leadership remains high despite declines; Kenya's approval of U.S. dips, while its approval of China gains.

Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, U.S. President Barack Obama

•    Approval of U.S. leadership remains high despite declines; Kenya's approval of U.S. dips, while its approval of China gains

Results of Gallup World Poll for 2014 has revealed decline in U.S. leadership approval in Africa, although the country stills leads leadership approval of China on the continent.

Approval of U.S. leadership has dropped in all 11 countries surveyed by Gallup since 2009, ranging from more tempered declines in the single digits in Senegal and Mauritania, to large double-digit drops in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In all countries except Chad, U.S. leadership lost more approval than China's leadership.

U.S. Leardership Approval in Three East African Countries

The highest approval ratings for both the U.S. and China in 2014 came from the Sahel region. Senegal and Chad had the highest approval ratings of U.S. leadership performance, while Niger and Senegal had the highest approval ratings of Chinese leadership performance.

In Eastern Africa, which Obama visited in late July, U.S. approval fell significantly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In this region, percentages of those who didn't know or refused to give an opinion ranged from 11% in Kenya to as high as 41% in Uganda. Still, this does not fully account for the declines in U.S. approval in all countries such as Kenya, where approval dropped significantly and disapproval rose, according to Gallup.
Of the three countries in Eastern Africa where Gallup has polled consistently over the past eight years, approval of U.S. leadership remains highest in Kenya -- where Obama has family ties on his father's side -- with a majority of 58%. Still, approval of U.S. leadership among Kenyans has fallen 35 percentage points throughout Obama's tenure, while approval of China's leadership has gained five points.

The changes in views of the job performance of the two major world powers' leadership makes ratings about equal in Kenya and Tanzania, while Ugandans are slightly more approving of U.S. leadership. In Kenya, where approval of Chinese leadership has been fairly stable except for a large spike in 2011, the declining approval of U.S. leadership since 2009 eventually closed the gap between the two.
Since the launch of the World Poll in 2005, sub-Saharan Africa is the region where approval of U.S. leadership has been the highest in the world. After Obama was elected in late 2008, Africans' approval of U.S. leadership topped 75% in many African nations. Although their approval has been declining in recent years, such a decline is not mirrored by an increase in Africans' approval of China's leadership. Rather, Africans' attitudes toward China have remained relatively stable over the years.

The survey results are based on face-to-face interviews with at least 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted every year between 2009 and 2014 in Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

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