Dambisa Moyo worked at Goldman Sachs for eight years, and before that for the World Bank as a consultant. She completed her PhD in Economics at Oxford University, and holds a Masters from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. She was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia.
Moyo shot to international prominence with her first book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa, which was published in 2009 by Penguin. Two points can be made from the book – one, Aid is not working for Africa and two, there is another way apart from aid. This way is what Moyo calls the Dead Aid proposal.
As an African born and raised on the continent, Moyo witnessed her country, Zambia continue to flounder in a seemingly never-ending cycle of what she calls the four horses of Africa’s apocalypse – corruption, disease, poverty and war – all exacerbated by Africa’s aid-dependency. From the high hopes and ambitions of their early independence, many African countries had been reduced to a state of near destitution and renewed depedency.
In Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa, Moyo proposes an aid-free solution to development. She criticizes the development models proposed by the West, epitomized by the widely publicized call by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for more aid for Africa. Blair famously called the continent “the scar on the consience of the world.”
Moyo tracks the impact of international aid to Africa over the years. In 1990s, having seen the failure of aid after fifty years, donors now laid the blame for Africa’s economic woes at the door of political leadership and weak institutions. And, it was around this time that the donor community converged on the idea of good governance. Alongside governance came democracy, the final whistle, the last-ditch attempt to show that aid intervention could work, if only political conditions were right. Then there was an emerging view that if Africa’s debts could be cancelled, the continent would be freed to achieve economic prosperity.
Despite, all these aid-driven interventions, Africa’s woes continued and by the 2000s, many countries on the continent had entered into a vicious cycle of aid which choked off desperately needed investment, instilled a culture of dependency, facilitated rampant and systematic corruption, and ultimately perpetuated underdevelopment. On the other hand, donors were growing frustrated with the apparent lack of aid impact.
As an alternative to aid, Moyo proposes market-based solutions. One solution – the capital solution – entails attracting capital through tapping local and international markets, making China a friend of Africa by tapping foreign direct investment both directly by the government, and indirectly by encouraging private Chinese enteprises to invest in Africa usually through preferential loans and buyer credits. Yet another option to aid is to support trade with China and regionally between African countries. Encouraging savings and tapping remittances are yet two other dead-aid options. With such opportunities, Moyo argues that it’s time to stop pretending that the aid-based development model currently in place will generate sustained economic growth in the world’s poorest countries. Africa’s development impasse demands a new level of consciousness, a greater degree of innovation and a generous dose of honesty about what works and what does not as far as development is concerned, and aid has not worked.
Dambisa is right; Africa needs to be weaned from dead aid, what some writers call the leaky begging bowl. It has not helped Africa, and will not do it. Besides, there are alternatives.
Moses Kibe Kihiko holds a Master’s degree in Leadership Studies. He recently published his book “Public Leadership: The Ten Defining Moments How Leaders Acquire & Handle Fame, Power & Glory “with Miraclaire Publishing, Website: www.miraclairebooks.com). Moses is the CEO of Practicum Leadership, a training, consultancy, writing and research firm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.