Dead Aid Debate

Surfed into Guernica Magazine ( a wonderful web based magazine on art and politics!) and saw this interview with writer and economist Dembisa Moyo.

Moyo has recently written a book, "Dead Aid". Her agument is that aid dependence is doing more to hurt than to help Africa. And that aid is being sustained not because there is evidence of progress, but because of the 500 000 people who work in the "aid industry".

At the same time African governments are not taxing their people and hence people also expect little of them. Opaquness rather than transparancy, corruption rather than efficiencly describes governance in Africa.

Some people, like her teacher at Oxford and Harvard
Paul Collier, feel she is mostly correct and that her wishes of slashed aid will come true because of the current economic downturn.

Others like writer Madeleine Bunting thinks Moyo's liberalist views are poorly underpinned and wonders what will happen to the poorest people, like the HIV infected, if aid is terminated.

The other day I met a fellow who works with the Millenium Challenge initiative to build roads and make agriculture more efficient in Ghana. A project costing USD 547 million. Some of the projcts he described, like facilitating the supply of vegetables to Accra and the harbor in Tema, is something I have never heard the Ghanaian government(s) suggest.

Then the question is why, is it because someone else is already doing it?


Dave Lucas said...

Here’s my interview with Ms. Moyo and one of her critics, a young African student attending college in Canada.

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Hi Dave, thanks so much for adding to the debate. Also nice to hear the well-rounded Moyo speak.

Graham said...

Madeline Buntings review is quite convincing. But I doubt whether people with HIV/Aids will notice if the aid stops. One of the major HIV NGO's in Ghana channels the money to where it sees fit - it's friends. This is just one example and was scandalised in the press a few years ago.
Bunting wants more effective aid but how is this possible in this environment?
Like Bunting, I'm not a fan of free enterprise and she is correct to highlight the role of African states. But she seems to believe something can be done about it! Everyone foreigner I know who is working with the government agrees that nothing can be changed. It's depressing. The only way I can see is to bypass power and maybe private enterprise is one way of doing this?
I think it is only when power is threatened that it MAY be forced to change.

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Hi Graham, I think what we all agree on is that there has to be a change in how things are done.

I think, like Moyo, that the accountability of the African governments has to be reinstated.

But to flip the coin, can aid really be the driver of that change? Must not the change come from the people? What every foreigner says about the government is in my view the least interesting argument, a government has never been for the foreigners.

Another perspective is time. Ghana has only been a democracy since 1992 and only this year's election made Ghana a textbook "stable" democracy. Maybe we have to wait with judging the government as incapable of change.

Thanks for adding to the debate!

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