Dead Aid in Africa

A long interview from Guernica with African development expert Dambisa Moyo, who has seen the foreign aid machine from positions at the World Bank and Goldman Sachs, and thinks the best thing for Africa is to cut it off. From the introduction, summing up Moyo's message:

Despite a deluge of aid between the years of 1970 and 1998, poverty on the continent skyrocketed from 11 percent of the population to 66 percent, which means over six hundred million Africans are now impoverished.....Dambisa Moyo is a unique voice in the debate over African aid. In a conversation dominated by white, male westerners—and most conspicuously by celebrities such as Bono or Bob Geldoff—Moyo is a black, African woman....Moyo earned her master’s from Harvard and a Ph.D. in Economics at Oxford. She’s worked as a consultant to the World Bank, and for the past eight years was the sub-Saharan economic expert for Goldman Sachs. It was at Goldman Sachs that Moyo began work on her book, Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is A Better Way for Africa, just a few weeks ago.....

Systematic western aid, Moyo argues in Dead Aid, has essentially turned Africa into one giant welfare state. The unending stream of money has created a situation where governments aren’t accountable to their citizens: since they don’t depend on tax revenue, leaders don’t think they owe their people anything—and the people don’t expect anything from their leaders. Moreover, says Moyo, since the money flows virtually no matter what, tyrants like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (three hundred million dollars in foreign aid was sent to Mugabe in 2006 alone, says Moyo) often pilfer it and buy foreign goods, or stow it in foreign bank accounts where it does nothing to help the country. Furthermore, aid stamps out entrepreneurship. Moyo offers the example of an African mosquito net maker. When aid arrives in the form of a hundred thousand mosquito nets, the net-maker is out of business, and one hundred and sixty people (employees and dependents) are now aid-dependent. This, she says, is not a sustainable model.

Some bon mots from Moyo herself:

I think it’s quite bizarre frankly, and slightly laughable, when I hear people say “Oh, the book is controversial.” My view is that it’s hardly controversial; it’s very obvious...I think we all know that aid is not working. That’s why in the book I draw on literature from organizations like the World Bank. It’s somewhat bizarre that all this evidence is out there [that aid doesn’t work], but somehow we just continue to push for more. Let’s take the capitalistic system for a second. It’s quote, unquote, not working now. We have centuries of evidence that it generates wealth and delivers jobs, and yet here we are after one bad year and we’re ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater. So I find it quite worrying that we can look at aid—after sixty years and one trillion dollars that haven’t worked in Africa—and we still don’t question the system....

.....I went to Kenya for the first time and visited the largest slum in Africa. It’s got about 1.2 million people living in it, and it’s been there since 1918. Frankly, it’s a perfect representation of the aid model. The UN for Habitat is right next door, yet this slum is spiraling out of control. It’s got no clean running water; it’s got nothing. It’s a direct example where they could have gone in and shown that aid works, but the slum is still there....In my experience—growing up in Africa and being an academic who went back to the continent and whose family still lives there—I have seen no evidence that aid is delivering a foundation that could ensure long-term sustainable growth and alleviate poverty.....

I think the whole aid model is couched in pity. I don’t want to cast aspersions as to where that pity comes from. But I do think it’s based on pity because based on logic and evidence, it is very clear that aid does not work. And yet if you speak to some of the biggest supporters of aid, whether they are academics or policy makers or celebrities, their whole rationale for giving more aid to Africa is not couched in logic or evidence; it’s based largely on emotion and pity....

....having an open-ended commitment for long-term development and long-term aid is not acceptable. In sixty years, we’ve had over one trillion dollars in aid go to Africa. It needs to stop. So if somebody comes to me and says, “Listen, we think that your five-year program is a bit aggressive, why don’t we make it ten years?” I’m up for a debate on that. What I don’t want is for people to say “Oh, her book is so controversial,” and then they put it aside and continue to perpetuate a long-term, open-ended cycle of aid. I don’t want to raise my children on a continent that continues to spiral downward.....

There is an incentive structure for the donors, and African countries know this. They know that the World Bank can only survive if it’s spending money. So when the conditionalities are not met, the aid continues to flow anyway....The World Bank discouraged Ghana from going to the capital markets to raise money because it wanted to keep the aid flowing. We’ve seen situations where, in order to keep the system going, the World Bank has lent to countries just so they could pay off old debts. A friend of mine had a great quote: “Africa is to the development industry what Mars is to NASA.” NASA spends billions on a MARS project, but they don’t really think we’re going there. Same with aid. Billions are spent, but no one really thinks it’s going to develop Africa. It’s kind of a scam.

Read the whole thing. Moyo is getting some good public play for a conversation that needed to happen.

From 2005 at Reason, Christopher Preble and Marian Tupy on how Western protectionism hurts African farmers.

And see how agricultural subsidies mess up lives from Mali to the good ol' U.S. of A in this informative Reason.tv video report.

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  • The Angry Optimist||

    But we all make fun of the conservatives when they talk about how welfare destroys urban families.

  • Cabeza De Vaca||

    "The unending stream of money has created a situation where governments aren't accountable to their citizens: since they don't depend on tax revenue, leaders don't think they owe their people anything"

    This is a point I gave up trying to explain to my liberal friends. They would just accuse me of being a greedy misanthropist who doesn't care if poor Africans starve to death.

  • High Every Body||

    Would this article be considered anti-African in certain Cosmotarian circles?

    crimethink, ruling please?

  • ||

    Oh sure, Harvard, Oxford, and practical experience in Africa. Has she ever played at a jam packed Wembley Stadium? I didn't think so.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    as an atheistic, open-minded, urbane and urban young man, my ruling is "no, not anti-African".

  • High Every Body||

    TAO,

    I believe your openmindedness needs to be tested.

    Would you openly date a Black person?

  • Donnie||

    Be it in Oakland or Africa, blacks cannot self-govern.

  • ||

    Chicks who can analyze facts any draw conclusions are rare. I'd totally try to get her preggers several times even if she were a lot less pretty.

  • ||

    And yet if you speak to some of the biggest supporters of aid, whether they are academics or policy makers or celebrities, their whole rationale for giving more aid to Africa is not couched in logic or evidence; it's based largely on emotion and pity...

    Also rooted in a self-righteous desire to feel superior to those that one pities (with an element of "benign racism" in case of Africa) and a cost-free way (99.99999...% of aid is paid by other taxpayers) to feel that one is generous and superior to those ungenerous ones who oppose the aid, who are, as noted above merely, "greedy misanthropist[s] who do[]n't care if poor Africans starve to death." And probably yucky Republicans or libertarians too.

  • ||

    African development expert Dambisa Moyo

    But do her arms have their own blog?

  • ||

    Despite Because of a deluge of aid between the years of 1970 and 1998, poverty on the continent skyrocketed from 11 percent of the population to 66 percent,

    True?

    The unending stream of money has created a situation where governments aren't accountable to their citizens: since they don't depend on tax revenue, leaders don't think they owe their people anything

    Its not so much that the elites don't need indigenous tax revenue to maintain their wealth and power. They don't need a functioning indigenous economy at all. Ordinarily, a sustainable local economy and even the emergence of a middle class is a risk that authoritarian elites have to run in order to maintain any level of personal wealth. By giving blank checks from the West to African elites, we have broken even this connection.

    Well played, tranzi scum. Well played, indeed.

  • ||

    >Moyo earned her master's from Harvard and a Ph.D. in Economics at Oxford. She's worked as a consultant to the World Bank, and for the past eight years was the sub-Saharan economic expert for Goldman Sachs.



    [snark]Obviously she doesn't know shit compared to Bono and Geldoff.*[/snark]

    I, and many many others, have made the same assertation about welfare to citizens in our own country. Unintended consequences and all that. The War on Poverty is 45 years old. How's that working out?

    "Africa is to the development industry what Mars is to NASA." NASA spends billions on a MARS project, but they don't really think we're going there.


    I want this woman. That is the hottest thing I've heard a policy lady say in decades.**

    * I don't get the whole white guilt thing. Maybe it's just soft bigotry.
    ** Maggie Thatcher said things that turned me on as well.

  • ||

    "The unending stream of money has created a situation where governments aren't accountable to their citizens: since they don't depend on tax revenue, leaders don't think they owe their people anything"

    Much like the US government minus the depending on their citizens for tax money. Besides that the don't think they owe their people anything line is right on target. See we are not so different. We are all ruled by black guys now too!

  • ||

    I expect to see Ms Moyo in the front row at the State of the Union address, at which time the Presidential Suit will name her Special Plenipotentiary Ambassador to the Continent of Africa.

  • High Every Body||

    I see TAO is not a true, certified, Open-Minded being. He would have known the answer right away (first question on the certification test!)

    Or perhaps he has taken the test and knows the follow-on question, that HE LIVES IN FEAR OF!

  • ||

    raivo pommer
    raimo1@hot.ee-www.google.ee

    OSTEUROPA BANKEN

    Mit der Ukraine und Kasachstan haben jetzt die ersten unter Kapitalabzug und Abwertung der Landeswährung leidenden Länder in Osteuropa und Zentralasien Devisenkontrollen eingeführt. In der Ukraine müssen Banken die Landeswährung Griwna zu einem festgelegten Dollar-Kurs kaufen, der weit über dem Schwarzmarktpreis liegt. Die Zentralbank hat offenbar die Aufsichtsratsvorsitzenden der wichtigsten Banken einbestellt und gedroht, sie bei Verstößen persönlich haftbar zu machen.

    Vom 23. April an sollen zudem neue Vorschriften gelten, die Banken zum Verkauf von Fremdwährungen gegen Griwna zwingen. In Kasachstan dürfen schon jetzt ausländische Ölgesellschaften nach Berichten der Agentur Bloomberg keine Gewinne mehr in ihre Stammländer zurückführen. Heimische Exportunternehmen würden gezwungen, Fremdwährungen in die Landeswährung Tenge zu tauschen, heißt es.

  • Abdul||

    If it takes a continent in poverty to keep Bob Geldof out of a music studio, I think that's a trade off the world is willing to make.

  • EJM||

    Moyo is getting some good public play for a conversation that needed to happen.

    Mr. Doherty is absolutely correct that there's been a lot of buzz about the book--although I really haven't had time to follow it. For additional examples, see this recent Reuters blog post (along with a rebuttal), as well as this recent "Guardian" interview and this recent "Financial Times" interview.

  • ||

    The Reuters comments are a pretty good read, but this one:

    It is quite easy to say stop aid when one is outside the country and doing quite well for oneself. Dambisa Moyo holds a PhD in Economics from Oxford University and a Masters from Harvard. Now not all Africans are so "blessed" as to have the funds to study at these top universities and then spout useless nonsense.



    Cut the tall poppy, cut it!

    And, of course, the rest of the comment is about getting the "right" leaders in place.

  • High Every Body||

    SF,

    Is does Feministing have a discussion about this yet?

  • JT||

    "Is does Feministing have a discussion about this yet?"

    Why don't you look for yourself?

  • Bronwyn||

    raivo once again reminds me to update INCIF...

  • High Every Body||

    Why don't you look for yourself?

    Because I am at work. Reinforcing that, we ask the experts at work, so I am asking the SME for that site.

  • Bronwyn||

    *refresh*

    Ahhhh, much better.

  • ||

    Why don't you look for yourself?

    Because he's afraid. Bok, bok, bok.

    "Caw-ca-caw! Caw-ca-caw!

    Have you people ever even seen a chicken?"

  • ||

    Now not all Africans are so "blessed" as to have the funds to study at these top universities and then spout useless nonsense.

    For some reason, I suspect this comment comes from a member of the very NGO parasite class Moyo wants to get rid of.

    Why go to Harvard, when you could go to Patrice Lumumba University?

  • ||

    If anybody wants to know why we should be upset at foreign subsidies for goods we make should look at the example of the African farmer or mosquito net maker is who is mad at us for our subsides. It completely undermines the competitive advantage that makes trade work.

  • High Every Body||

    SugarFree,

    You callin' me yeller?

    A duel at dusk it shall be! At the White Sands Missile Range. Field Artillery at 2 kilometers!

    [slaps SF with Nomex and leather glove]

  • Naga Sadow ||

    "But sir! What about the Africans?"

    Bah! (waves hand dismissively)

    They shall go wanting!

  • Naga Sadow||

    HEB really likes challenging people to duels. I'm beginning to think he really is TofuSushi.

  • ||

    Danyell said:

    Wow.

    I feel dirty and wounded after watching that.

    I don't know if I have more to add to how sexist and racist this is - because it is, plain and simple.



    What has wounded Danyell so deeply? A razor commercial. [GASP]

    And HEB, you are YELLOW... as yellow as lemonade piss. To duel a coward such as you would be beneath me.

  • High Every Body||

    NS,

    When, just WHEN, I need a link please, did I challenge anybody to a duel before this thread?

    Hummmm?

  • High Every Body||

    To duel a coward such as you would be beneath me.

    Chicken shit can't even use a gunner's quadrant or a plotting board, can you? HA!

    HEB for the win. Default scored as 9-0, just like in Baseball.

  • ||

    I work on the periphery of the AID/NGO Industrial complex, this book has all the dogooders in a tizzy.
    See Bono's org's response: http://www.one.org/c/us/policybrief/911/

    Moyo makes a key point - what is the exit strategy? The AID/NGO Industrial Complex never asks that. It is amazing that one the most successful development stories in post-war history, South Korea, is totally ignored in development community. Why? I've asked this of a lot of these experts and just get vague, mildly racist, or my favorite, open markets (with the US) arguements. But they don't talk a lot about open markets when its Malawi or Kenya.

  • Happy Jack||

    Has she ever played at a jam packed Wembley Stadium?

    No, but she was on Colbert the other night.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    But even Moyo's critics, if they're being intellectually honest, have to think long and hard about what she's saying.

  • JB||

    Liberals hate black people.

  • JB||

    Art POG, no they don't. Her critics often don't think at all. They just FEEL.

  • JB||

    SugarFree | April 6, 2009, 12:11pm

    That thread is reason one billion plus 5 that I will never date a self-identified feminist.

    Look at their retarded responses. Do they even know there are ad campaigns for male shaving?

  • EJM||

    One thing that I've come across in recent reviews of her book (here and here) that does raise some red flags is that she advocates for "decisive benevolent dictators"--i.e., that growth and development should come before democracy.

  • ||

    Democracy requires some semblance of underlying social order. Imposing it on a failed state doesn't work.

  • ||

    What a woman!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBH47mByATc

  • ||

    Democracy is merely a tool for a oligarch to disguise itself with. Property rights are what is needed. A Republic is what helped that landmass in North America become so prosperous. Ever since their emphasis shifted to democracy they have been in decline.

  • ||

    Of course Aid keeps Africans down.

    Does the West really want a United States of Africa - a country with oil, gas, coal, minerals etc etc, plenty of arable land, a potentially huge tourism market and a workforce that would love to raise itself from serfdom and free itself from the advice of western "experts"?

    That is their real nightmare - a new economic power block.

    So Africans are kept down, kept divided and kept impoverished - by misusing people's concern for Africa.

  • anon||

    here here, been saying the same.

    but its sadly suits the rich and thats all that matters. If we were to claim it didnt help and stop aid to africans and they "remained" in poverty the right might take more liberties with africans existance?
    time for atleast a small change in our thinking anyway with the huge global population growth and poverty?

  • Neil Craig||

    Aid, if given, should be aimed to get bovernment off people's backs not to make being President (or of his tribe) the only thing worth fighting for. We should aim it particularly at the most successful countries - ie Botswana - rather than reinforcing failure. We could set up an an Afro-Dollar bank which produces a currency on good banking terms & thus not inflationary & make it a condition of aid that governments allow its free circulation. We could pay them the very limited profits they make from customs on condition that they end all duties. Perhaps the same for taxes on business.

    I also once proposed a communictations satellite system to be given free to Africa. The growth of mobile phones, which gets communication out from under incompetent government monopoly has been the single biggest factor in growth in Africa recently.

    http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2004/12/modest-proposal-for-africa.html

    I think "aid" has had an at least equally destructive influence on Palestine.

  • ルイヴィトン バッグ||

    good topic for share
    thanks!

  • Judd||

    why can't I post this article to facebook?

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