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Africa World's Most Optimistic Region

Despite conflict, poverty and disease, a new survey says Africa is the most optimistic region in the world. The Gallup International Association says 57% of Africans surveyed believe 2006 will be better than 2005.

Meril James is secretary-general of Gallup International Association. From London, she spoke with English to Africa’s Joe De Capua about the survey.

She says, “We basically undertake the same survey every year and we’ve been doing that for almost 30 years now. But obviously our coverage in Africa has increased and for the last survey…we actually interviewed eight African countries. We asked the same set of questions always. We asked it this year in total in over 62 countries and basically we ask: Will the coming year, 2006, be better than 2005? Overall, do you think the economic prospects will be better or worse than last year? What do you think about prospects for international peace?"

GIA interviewed 6,000 people in those eight African countries. The survey also found that 52 percent believed 2006 would be a better year economically.

Asked if the survey indicated why Africa leads in optimism, Ms. James says, “No, not in a specific way.” She adds, “I have to say that traditionally we find Africa is a very optimistic continent. It’s quite often, as in this instance, the most optimistic region of the world…We’ve discussed this internally, my African colleagues and I, over the years many, many times. And I would also add it’s no coincidence that we find African generally one of the most religious continents in the world as well. And there is a general pervasive feeling of optimism to Africans. Now part of that is also an aspiration that things really can’t get any worse and therefore they have to improve.”

If Africa is the most optimistic region in the world, what is the least? The GIA survey finds that title goes to Western Europe.