Everyone says Africa is 'rising.' An 'Afrobarometer' poll questions that.

Africa's growth may be overstated, or new wealth may be accruing mainly among elites. Or both.

A version of this post originally appeared on Africa in Transition blog. The views expressed are the author's own. 

 Afrobarometer is a research project coordinated by various institutions in African countries and with partners in thirty-one countries.

It recently conducted a survey of public opinion across 34 African countries that showed popular skepticism about the “Africa Rising” narrative. This, despite relatively high growth rates. 

In a report released on Oct. 1, Afrobarometer data indicates that 20 percent of Africa’s population often goes without food, clean water, or medical care.

Further, more than half of those surveyed think that economic conditions in their country are bad or “very bad.” Some three quarters thought their government was doing a bad job in closing the gap between rich and poor.

John Allen, writing on AllAfrica.com, suggests that the results indicate that higher benefits of growth are going to a wealthy elite or that official statistics are overstating growth, or possibly both.

Morten Jerven, in his recently book Poor Number, has shown the shortcomings of African statistics.

In its report on the Nigerian economy, the World Bank observed that Nigeria’s high growth statistics could not be squared by increasing rates of poverty.

These, and other inconsistencies, make Allen’s hypothesis on where the majority of Africa’s wealth is directed, look credible.

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