Dambisa Moyo: Why African Aid is a Bad Thing

dead aid

So recently, Geoff put out a call for suggestions on future Terry speakers. One more to add to the list: Dambisa Moyo. She was recently in Toronto to participate in a debate with Stephen Lewis on the pros and cons of aid in Africa. I wasn’t able to get off work to go, but luckily for us she’s just come out with a book called Dead Aid that sums up her main pointsIn it, she argues that aid has actually hurt Africa more than helped it by creating a system where corrupt governments do not have to answer to their citizens or work to develop self-sufficient economies. 

Born in Zambia, educated at Oxford and Harvard, Moyo has worked for some of the largest financial institutions around, namely the World Bank and Goldman Sachs. 

I think her argument is an important one. Aid is unreliable for one thing. Look at Canada’s recent decision to cut Malawi and several more of the poorest developing countries from its aid list. In a coincidental way, when Harper made his aid announcement, I had only just finished reading A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche, about the Rwandan genocide. Courtemanche is from Quebec, and a large part of the book depicts the detachment of the international community–including Canada–during the violence that occured in 1995.

I wrote a while back about the Gateman Goes Global lecture and how I was disappointed that philanthropy was not more heavily stressed. After reading Moyo’s arguments against aid, however, I’ve reconsidered. It seems logical that true equality will only come when we treat Africa as a business partner and not a poor relation. 

A Q and A with Moyo can be found over at youtube.

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Sarah Andersen is both a wave and a particle.

3 Responses to “Dambisa Moyo: Why African Aid is a Bad Thing”

  1. Paulina

    There was an amazing debate with Moyo, Stephen Lewis, Paul Collier, and Hernando de Soto on Munk Debates a few days ago. Watch it online here: http://short.to/drhm. It’s really really worth it if you are interested in foreign aid/govt/Africa.

  2. RP

    For an example at what a ‘lack’ of corrupt government regulation can do look at Somalia’s telecom industry since 1991.

    With no government intervention entrepreneurs can choose what is best for their business without paying off officals or fees. Realistically, it’s a free-market economy – goods are exported and imported and businesses are established if there is a profit to be made.


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