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Ghanaians cheer during US president Barack Obama's visit to Accra in 2009
Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly
Ghanaians cheer during US president Barack Obama’s visit to Accra in 2009.

Sub-Saharan Africa still overwhelmingly prefers the US to China

By Lily Kuo

Most Sub-Saharan African countries approve more of the White House than Chinese leadership, according to a new poll. While Chinese investment and trade has far outpaced the US, all but two of 11 countries polled by the survey company Gallup showed higher approval rating for US leadership over China’s.

But the US has seen a drop in its popularity since 2009. When Barack Obama was first elected to the presidency, approval in many African countries jumped to as high as 75%. But between 2009 and 2014, that rate fell more than it did for China in all but one of the countries surveyed.

Even in Kenya, where Obama is considered a native son, approval of the US fell 35 percentage points. Kenya’s approval for Beijing’s leadership is now slightly higher than it is for Washington.

Meanwhile, attitudes toward China have stayed relatively stable over the years, Gallup notes. In addition to Kenya, Niger was also more approving of the Chinese leadership. And in Tanzania and Cameroon, approval ratings for the US were higher by only 1 percentage point.

Here you can see where approval ratings in 2014 were the strongest for the US (darker pink) or for China (light pink) of the 11 countries polled:

Approval-of-US-versus-Chinese-leadership-in-Sub-Saharan-Africa_mapbuilder