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The Aid To Africa Dilemma

Major world powers such as the U.S. and other nations including China are continuing to step up their aid to the African continent. In fact, the Obama Administration may even double aid to Africa. However, some like Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo paint a very bleak picture of what little good so much aid to the African continent has actually achieved so far. In fact, although billions of dollars of aid from around the world has flowed into African states, as a whole Africa is even poorer now than in the 1970's. african poverty.jpg

Certainly drought conditions in some nations, as well as the AIDS epidemic which is ravaging Africa has had huge economic consequences. However, many states haven't developed much local industry or employment after decades of foreign aid. And in some states such as Ethiopia, 90% of the government budget still comes from foreign aid, where only 10% of the funds come from any local revenues by harnessing natural resources or other revenue means.

Economist, Dambisa Moyo argues in her book, DEAD AID, that African states need to sell bonds and engage in other economic development projects and foster more trade with developing nations such as China or India. Certainly foreign aid has helped to build clean water projects or provide electricity to some areas. However, the political environment in many parts of Africa including dictatorships or guerrilla wars makes economic development very difficult.

A good example of the problems with providing a stable business environment is the Ivory Coast which may provide up to 90% of the world's cocoa supply that produces chocolate including candy bars. A war between the government and rebel fighters forced thousands of French soldiers and thousands of UN peacekeepers to attempt to keep a peace good enough that some cocoa supplies could continue to the world which would provide badly needed funds to maintain a government and some basic services of some type. However problems such as child labor are still rampant in this state, and the level of political violence has really limited the ability of this country to proper.

Many African states are also ruled by bad governments such as dictatorships. However, In Somalia, no real government even exists at all. Rival war lords vie for power in this state and make the nation way too unstable to develop any sort of viable economy.

The fact of the matter is that some nations such as those in Asia and in India are in the process of building huge economies. At the same time, Africa lags far behind. Even at one time, the old Soviet Union had hoped to expand Communism throughout Africa and create client states such as in Angola, but despite pouring a great deal of money into the country, the nation never really developed. During this past decade it has been reported by the World Monetary Fund that as much as $4 billion in oil revenue might have been stolen due to government corruption as well in Angola.

In an effort to help to control the AIDS epidemic in Africa, the Obama Administration will stop purchasing some Alabama produced condoms that cost 5cents each and buy cheaper ones from China costing 2 cents each. An interesting story because it involves outsourcing American jobs on one hand which will result in lost American jobs, yet will provide more condoms for lower cost. Yet, I don't know if condoms are an area where you want to save money over better quality.

But as a sober whole, the world community hasn't really achieved very much positive for the economic situation in most of Africa for all of the aid offered. Maybe the best hope is for businessmen from a developing nation like China to educate these countries how to take a poor nation and build a viable economic environment.

The Western world community will continue to provide aid to Africa because of the guilt over the serious poverty on the continent. But this continent really needs much more than just guilt driven giving. Africa needs a real viable plan to industrialize and to provide basic services as to combat the AIDS crisis among other major challenges.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (3)


interesting post, paul. the one thing that i have seen lacking is any serious reform effort originating in africa itself. until the people there are willing to step up and change the way their countries are run, i really don't see how aid will really help. i remember hearing stories back in the 80's about how we'd send over tons of food aid, yet most of it would rot on the docks because the countries lacked infrastructure, or the governements were using food shortages to control their populations. it's a sticky mess over there, and i wish someone had a good idea about what to do.

Paul Hooson:

Ke, Africa faces such serious problems that much more than just aid is needed to turn life around in this continent. Some real plans to lift this continent out of poverty and towards some real economic progress and social reforms is really needed. I suspect that either China or India might have the most to offer Africa in the way of providing education on how this continent can move into a developing world status and begin to build real national economies, not just collect massive world aid. The fact that Africa is not worse off than in the 70's is a pretty good indicator than mere economic aid is not enough to improve life in Africa. These people need education in how to build business, jobs and infrastructure and social development. Selling bonds might be a first start among many other steps towards some progress of some sort. Some like rock star from U2, Bono, suggests more world community aid. But the solution is much deeper than just this.

It seems that the West has no ideas as to how to help Africa, except to throw money at the kleptocrats running most countries.

How can we comprehend the situation in Zimbabwe, a country rich in natural resources and formerly self-sufficient in food? When Robert Mugabe became President the land reforms (seizure of the property of whites), destruction of the protection of the laws, and hyper-inflation all turned Zimbabwe into a basket case.

Now it seems that the UN might have played a role in stopping this destruction, considering the General Assembly is dominated by African countries. But, it raises the question of whether the UN delegates and their own governments are kleptocrats too.

And we also have the issue of whether Obama wants to help African countries either, because he went to Kenya to campaign for Raila Odinga an unreconstructed Communist, kleptocrat, and now the Prime Minister. Over 1,200 people were killed in the post-election protests. And Odinga has wanted to turn Kenya from one of the most promising African countries into an Islamic republic.

So, with a President like Obama, with UN delegates who take Mugabe's side, the situation in Africa is quite simply hopeless and putting money into the African dictator's bank accounts is simply unacceptable.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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