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We should shun aid, not celebrate it

26th May 2012
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Editorial Cartoon

Tanzania, like many other African countries, has for years now been celebrating aid, i.e. viewing it as one of the solutions to its economic problems.

Whenever African leaders travel abroad they carry a begging bowl with them, ready to solicit for more aid to support their countries’ economies.

Today, almost half of our national budget (49 per cent) depends on foreign aid, thus making us the most donor-dependent country in the region.

This despite our leaders having been told so often that aid doesn’t work as, in reality, it’s the disease that is killing Africa. Still they have chosen to worship aid, seeing it as a must for development.

In her book, ‘Dead Aid’, Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo explains how billions of dollars given to Africa as aid have totally failed to bring about the expected economic prosperity.

Dambisa Moyo makes a compelling case for a new approach to development in Africa. Her message is that ‘Africa's time is now’. It is time for Africans to assume full control of their economic and political destiny.

“Africans should grasp the many opportunities available to them for improving the quality of life,” said Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, after reading Moyo’s book.

In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans?

No. To the contrary, across the continent without exception, recipients of this aid are in fact worse off instead of being better off, according to the book.

In ‘Dead Aid’, Dambisa Moyo outlines the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase economic growth.

In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined while millions continue to suffer. Provocatively drawing a sharp contrast between African countries which have rejected the aid route and prospered and others that have become aid-dependent and seen poverty increase, Moyo illuminates the way in which over-reliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the ‘need’ for more aid.

British journalist Graham Hancock, in his book, ‘Lords of Poverty’, which focuses on the failure by billions of dollars given to sub-Saharan African countries as aid, narrates how the business aid has failed to rescue Africa economically.

There are countless more harrowing tales about how aid has failed in Africa. However, despite all the testimonies, it appears our leaders don’t get the message in the way they want to outdo one another in visiting Western capitals in search for aid.

Behind aid lies dirty and tricky games from the Western masters. For instance, when the ‘donors’ give Tanzania one dollar in aid, in return they take back five times through shoddy investments and controversial policies they impose on the recipient country.

Aid has therefore become the yardstick for measuring and remotely controlling African countries. By continuing to adore aid Tanzania, like many other African states, has sold its freedom and sovereignty for which we heroically fought half a century ago.

Time has come for African leaders to wake up and stop adoring aid because it’s a debilitating syndrome that was ingeniously hatched by Western countries to keep the continent in their clutches in the post-colonial era.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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