On 15 June 2022, the second policy workshop of the project Megatrends Afrika took place at the premises of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. It dealt with “External Actors and African Public Opinion”.
Megatrends Afrika is a joint project of the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), the German Institute for International and Security Affairs / Stiftung Wissenschaft and Politik (SWP) and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel) dealing with the question how megatrends, such as, demographic change and urbanisation, impact African states and societies.
The policy workshop was organised in a hybrid format and brought together project staff with policy-makers and further invited guests. Three short inputs presented current research from the project that deals with public opinion and perceptions towards external actors in Africa. Karoline Eickhoff (SWP) highlighted different political framings of Chinese infrastructure projects in Kenya and demonstrated how they affect political decision-making processes. Tobias Heidland (IfW Kiel) introduced extensive survey data that sheds light on Ugandans’ and Senegalese perceptions of African and non-African migrants, contributing to a more nuanced perspective on migration and Africa. The last presentation by Emmanuel Rukundo (IDOS) dealt with the relation between voting behaviour at the UN and African public opinion with regard to the war in Ukraine. His innovative research relies on a so-called sentiment analysis using data originating from Twitter. His research showed that increasing negative sentiments regarding the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict were associated with voting behaviour adjacent to majority and Western positions. The ensuing discussion was moderated by Benedikt Erforth (IDOS) and revolved primarily around the positioning of Germany’s policy towards Africa in light of a changed actor landscape in a new multipolar world order. The loss of Western credibility and legitimacy in Africa needs tailored political responses that take the often-cited partnership on an equal footing at face value.