Saturday, May 30, 2009

Recent interviews with Dambisa Moyo on aid for Africa

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I am reading through Dambisa Moyo’s book Dead Aid.  Thought it might be good to give you a taste of what she is advocating for and so here are a couple of interviews that she has done this week here in Canada. You can also find more on her website.


Why aid to Africa must stop

Adrian Humphreys, National Post  Published: Saturday, May 30, 2009 

Born and raised in Zambia but educated at Oxford and Harvard, Dambisa Moyo was an uncommon face as a black woman in the world of high finance. Now with the publication of her book Dead Aid, she has become an uncommon voice, a strong and eloquent advocate of stopping financial aid to Africa as the best way to help the troubled continent. It is an idea contradicting rock star campaigners, Western politicians and grassroots wisdom all at once. As she makes her way to Canada for a highly anticipated debate on Monday with Stephen Lewis and others at the Munk Debate on Foreign Aid, she spoke with the National Post about her ideas and the hazards of opposing the aid orthodoxy.


Q What's so bad about rich nations sharing their wealth with poor nations to help them cope with their struggles?

A No country on Earth has ever achieved long-term growth and reduced poverty in a meaningful way by relying on aid. It's just never happened. So we're pushing a strategy that has no evidence of working anywhere on Earth. And we have years of evidence that the aid strategy doesn't work.

It boils down to incentive. We have to ask ourselves: Are African governments incentivized to do what governments all around the world are expected to do, that is, deliver public goods: education, health care, infrastructure and security? Unfortunately an aid system has allowed African governments to abdicate their responsibilities.... So until African governments live or die based on job creation and providing goods to Africans and not rely just on getting aid money, we will continue to see a situation where the private sector has not developed and Africans do not have job opportunities. The billion dollars that go from government to government ... can make African governments lazy with respect to doing what they are supposed to be doing. It also fuels corruption, can fuel civil wars, inflation, the debt burden, and so on.

Q What do you see as the better way?

A It is a mixture of trade, foreign direct investment, capital markets, the bond market, remittance and microfinance. It is basically fostering a private sector investment into these economies so you actually get job creation. The fundamental problem with the aid model is there are no jobs being created for Africans. It is a band-aid solution. Over 60% of Africa's population is under the age of 24. These people need jobs or we'll have a continent of pirates or young people with no opportunities. It is critically important that people understand that Africans want what Westerners want.

Q In order to raise aid money, foundations and aid agencies often turn to television commercials panning across impoverished people amid a damaged wasteland. That hardly inspires confidence that any private funding would be worthwhile as a financial investment.

A I completely agree and that is one of the fundamental problems with the celebrity culture. The focus is so negative. In the book I call it the four horsemen of African apocalypse. They want to focus on war, disease, poverty and corruption. I met with an African woman in Kenya who said to me it is hard enough to raise a teenager anywhere in the world, but try to raise a teenager to be an engineer or a doctor or to really contribute to the global society when you are constantly being told you are poor, you're inefficient, you need a handout. This is not a formula for success. It is a great disappointment that, by and large, celebrities use their platforms to basically push a negative story. That is not going to encourage anyone to Africa to invest.

Q So you advocate turning off the taps. How soon, how suddenly and how completely should they be turned off ?

A I appreciate you asking that question because I have been completely misrepresented and, I have to say, I think quite deliberately misrepresented, particularly by the NGO community...

[click here to read more]


Matthew said...

Ms. Moyo has a lot of really good things to say, and I'm really glad that her voice is being heard on the international scene. Someone has to stop the madness that is the international aid cartel and just think about the consequences of what we are doing-- and then work on solutions that will actually help and bless the people!

Gideon12 said...

Nobody wants to confront the really basic issue. Not Dambisa Moyo, not VOM, and certainly not western political or religious leaders or pundits.

That issue is, unbridled population growth.

Major problems -- bad environment, poverty, illness, corruption, armed conflict -- tend to correlate very strongly with high birth rates. Thanks to western medicine and the (ultimate) curse of the “green revolution” these rates are no longer balanced by high death rates.

That’s great, nobody would have it otherwise. But the net growth cannot continue forever. And while a solution for one or more problems may start working today, tomorrow when the six or ten offspring of each family become adults with all their needs and expectations (and new families) those efforts will fail or founder, defeated by simple compounding numbers.

Christians often just say “children are a gift from God”. Well, that’s a great way to see the little boy or girl in the photo or looking up at you. The issue is, how many more should a family create, in the slums of Nairobi or hard-scrabble rural Ethiopia, who cannot arrange a good life for the six little ones they already have? The real gift from God is our intelligence, and the will to use it for ultimate benefit, not restricted by wrongheaded dogma.

“Go forth and multiply”? OK, we did that already. One of the few biblical injunctions that a lot of people obey. So, what’s next?

Glenn Penner said...

So, Gideon, explain to me how your theory works since Africa is the least populated continent on earth, with the highest death rate due to disease and the lowest age rates? Unbridled birth rate is the least of Africa's problems. There are some social scientists (not Christians, by the way) who suggest that part of Africa's problem is underpopulation. You might want to use some of that God-given intelligence and re-examine your own version of dogma.