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Development Aid Doesn’t Work in Africa by Rob Neal
March 12, 2009, 8:41 am
Filed under: Articles, Development theory

This is the argument given by Dambisa Moyo. Ms. Moyo is a Zambian with a masters from Harvard, a doctorate from Oxford, and eight years experience as an economist for Goldman Sachs.

Why does aid to Africa fail?  Ms. Moyo, says that aid creates far more problems than it solves.  Here is what she told IRIN in an interview:

“You essentially have a problem whereby African governments are getting aid because they, the donors, are worried about the levels of poverty in those countries. But that aid then tends to spew out a lot of corruption, it creates a lot of bureaucracy, it kills off entrepreneurship, and it disenfranchises voters in those countries.”

Ms. Moyo sees the argument as an African.  It is interesting to compare her views with those of her former professor, Jeffrey Sachs.  Dr. Sachs is now the Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University.  In a piece for the Financial Times, he wrote about his view of the aid problem:

“Aid flows are far below promised levels and are unpredictable; market flows are heavily concentrated in a few countries, and are subject to panicky reversals; and global public goods are disastrously under-financed, good intentions without backing.

There is no point of accountability.  When aid is promised but not delivered, nobody really cares except the poor countries themselves.  And more often than not, the poor get blamed for some malfeasance or another as the reason why aid hasn’t flowed.”

Development ministers piously proclaim that they will honour their commitments, such as to double aid to Africa by 2010, even as their finance ministers are cutting their aid budgets.”

Ms. Moyo says she would like to debate Dr. Sachs at some point.  That may just happen, she has achieved quite a bit of celebrity already.  She has even been given a new moniker: The Anti-Bono.

Update 3/18:  You can hear an NPR interview with Ms. Moyo here.


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Here is an interesting book review written by Paul Collier, author of “The Bottom Billion”. He taught Moyo and has a good critique of the book – http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/dead-aid-by-dambisa-moyo-1519875.html.

Comment by annayoung

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