December 13th, 2013

CNN Survey Reveals Optimism across Post-Mandela Africa

– Two thirds are more optimistic now than when Mandela took office

– 1 in 4 African respondents says leaders are living up to Mandela’s vision “well”

– Corruption biggest challenge for nations

A survey for CNN International of almost 10,000 mobile phone users in Africa across 20 countries suggests a continent looking to the future with hope, and relatively satisfied with the stewardship of its leaders.

As the continent prepares to bury its most universally beloved and admired statesman, many Africans are viewing their leaders in a positive light.

Two out of three African users who responded to the survey, conducted for CNN by Jana Mobile, said they were more optimistic about their future and that of their families than when Nelson Mandela took office in South Africa.

One in five said they were as optimistic now as they were then, while only 15% said they were less optimistic.

Corruption appeared to be their greatest single concern. Given a choice of five options, respondents listed it as the greatest challenge facing their country, followed by the gap between rich and poor, poverty, and HIV/AIDS, with war coming last.

However, Africans taking part in the survey generally give their leaders positive reviews. One in four says their leaders are living up to Mandela’s vision “well,” and another 50% say their leaders are “doing their best.” Only a quarter of respondents say their leaders are doing badly.

While a clear majority of respondents voiced optimism their own future and those of their family, there was a split down the middle about how South Africa would do after Mandela.

Just under half said the country would succeed without him, while an equal number said it would “struggle.” Only 3% predicted it would fail.

Predictions for South Africa’s future were similar inside South Africa itself – where just over half the survey respondents come from – and across the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

CNN International surveyed nearly 10,000 people in 20 countries from the Ivory Coast to Mozambique using Jana Mobile. People received a small payment of mobile airtime in return for answering five multiple-choice questions and two open-ended ones. Detailed results can be viewed at

“This survey has thrown up some fascinating insights, drawn from an unusually large sample. It might give people outside Africa pause for thought to re-evaluate South Africa and the continent. With the explosive growth of mobile in Africa, mass surveys of this sort are an increasingly interesting way to sample opinions,” said Peter Bale, Vice President and General Manager Digital of CNN International. “Using a service like Jana to take this survey also allows a brand like CNN to experiment in the world of micro-payments and the sharing economy in Africa where mobile air time has become a form of currency, particularly among the poor and remote.”


Notes to editors

The survey findings were not statistically weighted as they are in public opinion polling, and may not be representative of the overall population of the continent.

More than three-quarters of respondents were between the ages of 15 and 25. 13% were aged 26 to 30, and 10% were older than 30.

The survey did not reach certain countries in Africa currently ravaged by conflict, such as the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.