By Ragan M. Conteh
The findings in the 2020 Afro Barometer have indicated that the government receives lower approval rating on its economic performance than on other issues.
It went on that fewer than two in 10 respondents say the government is doing a good job of handling the economy, with 19%; improving living standards of the poor with 15%; narrowing income gaps with 10%; creating jobs with 10%, and keeping prices stable with 7%.
“An appalling performance by a government that won the 2018 presidential election by a mere three percentage points, amidst claims of ballot rigging and electoral fraud,” the report reveals.
It says only one-third, with 32% of Sierra Leoneans, say the country is thriving “in the right direction.” A 13-percentage point, according to the report, decline in 2020 as compared to 2018, which was 45%.
The reported further revealed that the perception of the country moving in the right direction is more common in ruling party strongholds. Southern region has 57% and eastern region clocks 53%. In opposition strongholds, the western region has 16% and northern region making up 14%.
The findings, in the report, reveal that just one in 10 Sierra Leoneans (11%) describe the country’s economic condition as “fairly good” or “very good.” Negative assessments with 84% have almost doubled since 2012 with 46%.
The findings went further that only two in 10 citizens with 19% describe their personal living conditions as “fairly good” or “very good.”
The report opines that the proportion, which describes their living conditions as fairly/very bad, with 72%, has increased by 32 percentage points since 2012 with 40%.
Nine in 10 respondents, with 89%, according to Afro Barometer, went without cash income at least once during the year preceding the survey, including 43% who did so “many times” or “always.”
“Almost as many report experiencing shortages of medical care with 81%, food with 70%, and clean water, 68%,” the report informs.
The report also discloses that only one-third of Sierra Leoneans say the country is going in the right direction, a significant decline after some optimism with the change in government in 2018. It reveals that Sierra Leoneans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with their personal living conditions and the country’s economy, and very few citizens believe the government is doing a good job of handling the economy.
“Dissatisfaction with the country’s economy and personal living conditions is reflective of citizens’ increasing levels of deprivation in their everyday lives, as large majorities experience shortages of food, clean water, and other basic necessities. Citizens in the opposition-controlled western and northern regions are especially bleak in their outlook,” the report says.
“In 2018, President Julius Maada Bio inherited an economy undergoing austerity measures and faced high expectations of economic improvement. This survey’s findings suggest a series of steps to strengthen the economy, which have yet to translate into material gains for most citizens.”
The country’s currency has lost almost 40% of its 2017 value when the former APC government was in power, with one dollar now trading at over twelve thousand five hundred Leones, compared to almost nine thousand five hundred Leones in 2017.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life.
Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018. Round 8 surveys, in 2019/2020, are planned in at least 35 countries. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.
The Afrobarometer team in Sierra Leone, led by the Institute for Governance Reform, interviewed 1,200 adult Sierra Leoneans in March 2020. A sample of this size yields country level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.