Dambisa Moyo, a renowned Zambian economist has just launched her new book, Dead Aid. As the title suggests, she is not a big fan of foreign aid, at least not in the format in which it has been predominantly disbursed to African countries over the last several decades (to be exact, a trillion dollars over the past 60 years). She is especially critical of celebrities who, however well-intentioned in their aid efforts, ultimately perpetuate negative stereotypes about Africa. She says:
- “Taking a picture with a starving African child—that doesn’t help me raise an African child to believe she can be an engineer or a doctor.” Instead of aid, Moyo recommends other paths to financial and democratic independence: bond issues, trade, foreign investment. (…) She recommends shutting off all foreign aid to Africa within 10 years.
Not everyone agrees and the book has spurred intense debates. Yet undeniably it makes several very good points. Moyo concludes: “The African issue should be championed by the African leaders charged with delivering long-term growth for their people. Anyone else offering opinions is pretty much moot.” And many Africans second that – among them James Shikwati, the founder and Director of the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN), an independent Kenyan think tank promoting economic freedom as the driving solution to poverty in Africa. You can watch his CIPE Development Institute presentation on this subject here (free registration required).