Africa is awash with aid! Over the past five decades more than US$1 trillion have been pumped into the Continent with a view to accelerating the economic uplift of millions of underprivileged human beings. But the sorry fact is that in spite of this massive influx of monetary assistance, Africa instead of progressing has regressed. What might be the cause of this unhealthy paradox?
In this incendiary and acerbic work, Dambisa Moyo, an African as well as a credible Economist explains why aid is more of a poison than a panacea. In a continent rife with ethnic conflicts, rampant with corruption, and reeling from lack of basic infrastructure facilities, mindless funneling of aid takes development nowhere. In fact aid money hurts more than helping as it makes its way into the hands of a tiny majority of beneficiaries, most of whom are power hungry despots, corrupt elitists and barbarian warlords. The common man does not see the light of aid and hence continues to struggle in the vice like grip of poverty and penury. Dambisa Moyo after highlighting the futility of aid as a feasible measure to rid Africa of the plagues of poverty and illness, proposes a set of logical market driven reforms embracing which would ensure that Africa regains its rightful place in the world.
Some of the few propositions put forth by her are accessing the world capital markets by issuing bonds (after building the necessary institutional mechanisms, which Ghana and Gabon have done), attracting Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) by reassuring investors of their contractual safeguards, enhancing international trade with willing partners in general and China in particular, and finally harnessing the immense potential of burgeoning inward remittances and untapped domestic savings. Moyo contends that Africa can prosper ‘despite’ aid and calls for a phased reduction in aid dependency. She also puts her faith in alternative and unconventional financing methodologies such as collective micro-finance and also urges capacity building in so far as the business segment of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is concerned.
One may not agree with some of the “Dead Aid”proposals suggested by Moyo in her book. However one also has to accept the damning fact (backed by statistical evidence) that ill directed or even well directed aid is NOT working to make Africa a better place. Famine, AIDS, poverty and illiteracy are rocking the continent and dragging it into an abyss of hopelessness. Unless concrete and realistic measures are implemented, there is a real danger of this invidious morass causing irreparable damage. Humanity cannot allow that to happen. The time to act is now. Else the poster boys for unfettered aid such as Jeffrey Sachs and his pop culture cronies such as Bono would continue organising concerts (of the likes of Live 8), and proposing charters such as the Millennium Development Goals (“MDG”) whose only achievements comprise the fanfare with which the programmes were ushered in.
The world needs a booster dosage of Moyo and a subdued voie of Bono!
“Dead Aid” – Time to bring Africa back to life!