TRENDS Bulletin Analyzes Africa's Perceptions of Major Powers and Development Models


TRENDS Research and Advisory released the fourth issue of the World Public Opinion Bulletin entitled "Africa's Perceptions of Major Powers and Development Models". The analysis showed that African perceptions of major powers as models of development are diverse and multifaceted. It explained that different individuals and communities within Africa have contradictory views, influenced by their own experiences and the specific interactions they have had with these advanced powers.

The insights were expressed in the bulletin prepared by the Barometer Department at TRENDS Center. It included a questionnaire and field surveys on Africa's perceptions of major powers and development models. The analysis was based on the use of data of the eighth round in 2022, which was conducted in 34 countries in Africa, through the African Barometer program.

The results showed divergent African perceptions of the development models pursued by major powers, especially with regard to the United States and China. The study indicated that this disparity can be explained in the context of various factors, some historical and other direct factors associated with economic interests and political affiliation. Both major powers have their own models and concepts that Africans tend to adopt, some of which can be classified as follows:

Conceptions about The United States:

It was found that many African countries have historical relations with the United States, due to several factors related to human rights movements and educational exchanges. These factors led to the formation of these perceptions, and the creation of political and cultural ties between the two sides. Moreover, aid and development assistance played an important role in shaping these perceptions, although there have been African criticism of U.S. intervention in some cases. However, this does not undermine the level of Africa's appreciation of U.S. political influence.

Africa’s Perceptions of China's

The analysis showed that the main factor, which enhanced the positive African perception of China as an economic model of development, is related to China’s proactive economic engagement. China has significantly bolstered its presence in Africa through bilateral trade, investment and infrastructure projects. This created a sense of appreciation among some Africans for China's economic participation. Africans regard China’s economic engagement as useful in providing capital investment, which created jobs and developed the infrastructure. Africans appreciate China's adoption of a policy of non-interference in internal affairs, which is consistent with the African perception of sovereignty. Africans acknowledge that China's engagement often comes without political strings. Furthermore, China promotes itself as a partner with the countries of the South.

Africa’s Perceptions of Russia’s Engagement

The analysis found that Russia also has historical interactions with some African countries, especially during the era of decolonization, where some Africans appreciated Russia's support for their struggle for independence. They view this historical role positively. Education is also an important factor in shaping Africans' perceptions of Russia. In fact, Russia has been an educational destination for African students seeking higher education.


The analysis found that 33% of Africans consider the United States as the best model for their countries' future development, while 22% think that China could be the best model for their countries' economic development. However, 12% believe that the Republic of South Africa is the best prospective model for development for their countries. As for the issue of colonialism in African countries, 11% and 13% of Africans consider the former colonial powers as the best model for development in their own countries.

The study indicated that 60% of Africans believe that the United States has economic and political impacts on them, compared to 13% who believe that such impact was in negative terms. Also, 45% of Africans believe that former colonial powers have a positive impact on Africa, both economically and politically, while about 25%, believe that those powers had a negative impact.

The analysis prepared by the Barometer Department at TRENDS Center reviewed the colonial background of certain African countries. The study showed that there is a a divergence of views on the part of citizens of African countries, which were subjected to French colonialism. This is regarding the positive or negative impact of France on their countries in terms of economic and political development. However, citizens of African countries that were subjected to British colonialism expressed positive attitudes towards British impact on their countries, both economically and politically.

As for Russia's economic and political influence, the poll indicated that 28% of Africans believe that Russia has a positive economic and political impact on Africa, compared to 13% who believe that it has a negative impact.

What about the language preference for most Africans?

The survey found that the majority of Africans, about 69% of them, consider English as the preferred language that young people aspire to learn, followed by French (14%) and Arabic (5%).

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