A survey in Africa suggests Nigerians and Zimbabweans feel especially pessimistic about their own countries.
Some 60% of South Africans think they are going in the right direction
The study by international polling agency, Globescan, also indicates that more than a third of Africans feel worse off this year compared with last.
In Zimbabwe, just 3% of those asked think life is getting better.
In Nigeria, 75% of people think the country is heading in the wrong direction, with 66% thinking it is more corrupt than a year ago.
Remarkably, another survey conducted by the New Scientist last year, suggested Nigerians might also be the happiest people in the world.
The Globescan survey also shows that most Africans do not believe that their national governments reflect the will of the people, and have more trust in their religious leaders.
There is some optimism in Kenya, where the vast majority of Kenyans believe corruption is declining, and two-thirds of Ghanaians think their government reflects the will of the people.
However, 80% of Zimbabweans and 66% of South Africans feel their countries are more corrupt than a year ago.
West Africa: Jobs, poverty
Egypt: Cost of living
South Africa: Crime
Zimbabwe, Tanzania: Aids
One thousand people took part in the study in each of eight countries: Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe.
More than 90% of those asked, see Aids and the spread of diseases as serious problems for them and their families
Half of Africans asked, feel the world is going in the wrong direction. They feel positive about the United States but negative about trade, Aids, jobs and poverty
Below are a selection of your comments:
As a Zimbabwean I feel the result has been rigged - who are the 30 people out of a thousand who feel the country is getting better? Thirty out of 12 million would be a better bet, that is Mugabe and his cabinet who are chasing UN food programme from the country saying we will have a better harvest. And for better measure 12 million is the rough population of Zimbabwe.
Thembelani Ndlovu, London, UK
As for corruption, the Zimbabwe and South Africa cases may reflect opposition to the government and not the real situation. It will be more important to know how the respondents were selected. Elites and people from urban areas are more likely to oppose ruling governments.
Richard Minja, Tanzania
There is nothing to cheer about in Zimbabwe, except that the coming of the Lord is near. Corruption is rife, hunger is everywhere, and few are on the government's anti-retroviral support system. The government does not reflect the will of the majority nor do the people have a voice.
John Mbiri, Harare, Zimbabwe
Corruption, though being investigated, some big guns are being left out. Only a few are surviving. The rest of us are just existing and one does not know what to eat or drink the next hour. Things are just difficult for most of us.
Goddie Godfreys, Gweru Zimbabwe
As a Nigerian, I am optimistic that someday things will change for the better but there needs to be major reforms in the government before that will happen. There might be a lot of bloodshed and difficulty in Africa, but it is always darkest before dawn. Nigeria is a very corrupt country but Nigerians are good people and someday that goodness will be seen by the whole world.
Grace, Plateau State, Nigeria
Why would Africans be happy when they see all the money been spent by their own countries and the G8 on weapons when less than 1% of that money would stop a tragedy from happening in Sudan this month!
How unscientific. Nigeria is a country with a population of millions and this report suggests that a thousand people will adequately reflect their thoughts. Utter rubbish!!!! We already know where we think Nigeria is going. Please don't use stupid statistics to emphasise it.
Uzo, USA, Nigeria
In Nigeria, there is every cause for pessimism because there is hardly anything visible to make the citizens feel contented about the country ranging from declining infrastructure, lack of job to other things like insecurity and corruption. The citizens have a habit of keeping themselves happy by all means since many of them have not seen better days in the past, hence the result that says they are the happiest in the world. It is high level corruption that has been the bane of these happy people.
Paul Ohia, Lagos, Nigeria
As a born and bred Zimbabwean I do not believe that there are any grounds for optimism in Zimbabwe. Ten years ago we Zimbabweans were full of hope but now corruption and Aids spread like wildfire. Land lies fallow while our people starve. The flow of tourists has all but dried up while some of the world's greatest wildlife is being destroyed. Trees are falling never to be replaced. Those that want to make things better are stamped on by the authorities. How can anyone find hope in these times of chaos?
Don, London, UK
I believe that Africa as a continent is going through a transitional phase in its journey to development. While bad governments may prevail now, the chances are that as sources of media permeate the continent and people are made more aware of their rights, the nations will (over time) surmount these obstacles and free stable democracies will prevail. However, to achieve stability the process must mature intrinsically, without external military help. Meanwhile, kudos to the Nigerian people for being amongst the happiest in the world.
Sunava Dutt, Philadelphia, USA
As Africans we have every reason to be cheerful. New technology has open new doors for us; corrupt leadership are a minority, democracy is taking hold; research is ongoing for a cure for Aids; through the internet we are learning more; and getting connected. We should be optimistic!!!
Francis Stevens George, Oslo, Norway
The statement Africans feel good about the USA must be some kind of a joke designed to make the US feel good. Africans never feel good about imperialists or their lackeys.
Fidel M, Oxford England
As a Sudanese I feel good about US policies. Africans should stop crying out at all the time. Poor leadership is the core problem of the Africa life.
Deng A Tong, Sudan/US/Vermont
The problem is that leaders do not govern for the people. They govern for their pockets. This is a worldwide condition. The difference is that in the first world, people don't really know it.
The correlation is that the more a country is endowed with minerals, the more likely it is to be plunged into a civil war. This is certainly the case for Africa.
The tactic is divide and rule.
It's like 2 dogs fighting over a bone and a third comes along and runs away with it. The third dog being the 'West'.
Stonk Vd Spy, Cape Town, South Africa
It is always interesting to read words like 'scientific' research which I am sure are meant to reflect some kind of super-natural truth. I too would be interested to know how the people were sampled and how the countries were chosen and how the research questions were formulated. Honestly, since I came here to Senegal I have not even heard anyone mention the words Aids, corruption or unhappiness because we Africans have a lot of other things and people that make us happier than to spend each thought on our governments. True that there is corruption, Aids and poverty but please let Globescan not make it sound like a unique occurrence in Africa. There are many corrupt, poor, hungry and HIV/Aids people in Europe, North America - except that their TVs only show us here images of their celebrities, starved supermodels on the runaway.
d Lwanga, Dakar, Senegal
Foreign businesses very often fuel the corruption, because it makes sense for their own short-term objectives. The sooner the first world (political and business) takes an uncompromising stand on ethics, the better. Corruption can only exist when the payers are prepared to countenance it.
David Roberts, London
On the surface, things do look extremely bleak in Nigeria especially with corruption in the society (not just the government) and galloping inflation. However, if you look deeper and with a little patience, you will notice things are changing. The pace of change is really really slow though but its definitely there. We Nigerians are hopeful that its going to get better some day and this is what keeps us going and keeps us happy. We will get there!
Femi Adeyemi, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
There is no survey to talk about in as far as sampling is concerned. How can a small sample of 1000 people be a true representation of a population of 129 Million people(Nigeria)and 12.9 Million people (Zimbabwe)? Unless, of course, if you just want to be excited over poor surveys.
Pio Machipisa, Zimbabwe
I think the survey about Ghana is correct. Most Ghanaians think this present government is a better alternative to what we have known over a decade ago.
Addae Mensah, Accra, Ghana
As a South African working in the UK, I don't agree with the survey. South Africa is ten times better then it was before the new government took over in 1991. The majority of South Africans have a positive outlook for the future. There will always be corruption, but for the majority of South Africans life is better.
Chris Bester, Reading, England