Friday, November 18, 2011

Dead Aid: Quick Take Review

Dead Aid: Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo

Moyo is an economist who has previously held positions at Goldman Sachs and the World Bank.  She knows her stuff.  She is also a native of Zambia.

The book is both an indictment of Western paternalism and an optimistic look towards real solutions to the problem of Africa.  The first part of the book reviews the history of aid to Africa and why it (largely) has done more harm than good.  The second part takes a look at several ways in which not only African countries can help themselves, but how the developed world can help them do it.

The single best action is to stop the aid pipeline.  Moyo shows what many of us have long realized - that the way we help Africa more often lines the pockets of corrupt rulers and their families than it does lift the average African out of poverty.  Giving African countries a deadline for their loss of aid is the first step.

The second step is African countries getting up on their own feet through tools like innovative uses of microfinance, accessing global capital markets, foreign direct investment, incentives for changed behaviour and reframing trading agreements and tariffs.  It won't be easy.  Some African rulers have found the aid game a bit too lucrative to want to let it go.  And western do-gooders will take some convincing to stop handing out the dosh like candy on Halloween.  But, unless we really are racist and think Africans cannot learn a great degree of aid-independence, we must move in the direction Dambiso Moyo points us.

She's not the only voice out there telling this story.  She is, however, one with the wisdom of both worlds.

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