Sunday, 27 December 2015

Dead Aid, by Dambisa Moyo

A friend of my family once served as a short-term missionary in Mozambique. She expressed some frustration to me about attitudes of entitlement and dependency that she encountered among Africans. They would tell they thought the USA should give them food and money. My friend used to try challenging their attitude by asking them "Why should the USA give you anything?" Not that she necessarily thought the USA should do nothing to help Africans, but it was clear that giving could sometimes be counter-productive.

The author of this book argues the controversial conclusion that not only is development aid to Africa ineffective, but it is in fact the major cause of Africa's misfortunes. She argues that aid props up inefficient African governments, encourages corruption and provides an alternative to economic development. She does not advocate the immediate cessation of aid, but she suggests that the tap needs to be slowly turned off. She suggests a number of alternative sources of revenue that African countries an draw upon.

Moyo argues that it is trade, not aid that Africa needs. She therefore praises Chinese investment in African economies. She acknowledges criticisms that have been made of Chinese activities in Africa, but argues that the results have been hugely beneficial to Africa. She also praises micro-credit schemes that have come in for criticism in recent years.

Moyo's book has been critiqued by those who know more about economics than I do and many have found fault with her thesis. Nevertheless, whether Moyo i right or wrong, what is beautiful about this book is that it is the work of an African woman. There are plenty of white men who have a lot to say about what Africa needs. Yet here we have an African woman who is offering her own perspective about the real issues facing Africa today.

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