Thursday, July 07, 2005


African economist says aid is poisonous: "The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem.... Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid"

Africa already choking on aid: "Rambak threatens to become a bitter example of how development aid doesn't really help. Again and again finance is hurriedly provided for one project after another, without any evidence of a convincing overall concept. The money is just thrown at projects as quickly as possible. In this case, Norway has made $500,000 available for just 500 refugees in the camps. The windfall immediately sparked off further need and a second camp, this time home to 345 people, has sprung up. It is the Italians who are footing the bill for the new camp. Money is, for the Europeans, the solution to all of Africa's problems. But despite yearly payments of, at last count, some $26 billion, the majority of the continent resembles something approaching one big emergency military hospital. Already today there are increasing numbers of Africans who call for an end to this sort of support"

Even the L.A. Times says it: "Africa is filled with good intentions that ended badly. Half-completed hydroelectric dams covered with weeds, empty irrigation pipes decaying in the equatorial sun and roads that literally lead to nowhere dot the continent, testaments to corruption and bad judgment. Despite billions of dollars in aid, Africa has gone backward since the 1970s on every measurable level"

Africa's vast corruption: "The example of Nigeria says it all. Figures released last month by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, as reported in the London Daily Telegraph, reveal that in the 45 years since Britain granted independence in 1960 a succession of despots squandered $387 billion (that's a "b," not an "m"), almost to the dollar the sum of all Western aid to all of Africa between 1960 and 1997. One of the despots, Gen. Sani Abacha, now safely dead, is believed to have looted Nigeria's vast oil reserves of more than $5 billion in just five years. William Bellamy, the U.S. ambassador to neighboring Kenya, startled the guests at his Fourth of July garden party yesterday with just the kind of bluntness needed to keep African aid in realistic perspective. "Turning on the fire hose of international compassion and asking Kenya and other African nations to drink from it is not a serious strategy for promoting growth or ending poverty."

A view from South Africa: "African countries, including South Africa, have refused to give even the vaguest criticism of the almost unimaginably abusive Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, maintaining that the crimes committed by that government are an internal matter. It is difficult to understand why no African leader will speak out and condemn such a clear case of evil, but in remaining silent they give their tacit approval and encouragement of the destruction of peoples' lives and livelihoods. Perhaps African leaders are just so removed from the lives of ordinary Africans that they cannot fathom any individual's need to provide for him or herself, to be self reliant and to take pride in what he or she produces.... So when the G8 countries, encouraged by Geldof and his platitudinous popstar friends, give money to Africa, they are rewarding the very people that cause poverty, destruction and death. If Africa wants to advance, it does not need more money.... They should be removing the harmful laws that give power to brutal policemen and frustrate enterprise and self-reliance. But of course it suits this political elite to get handouts from rich countries as it means they have to do less work to reform themselves and means they don't have to muddy their shoes by being concerned with the little people"

Australia thinks handouts are no answer: "Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has strongly defended Australia's foreign aid contributions, amid opposition claims the nation is not doing enough to eliminate global poverty..... Mr Downer said setting financial targets alone would not solve the problem of global poverty. "We think that the central issue here is targeting the quality of governance in countries and the quality of public administration, because that is why these countries are poor," he told ABC radio. "It's not the volume of aid, it's the quality of government on the ground which is the issue. "If governance is bad, if corruption is high, then issues like the volume of aid or debt relief ... they're just going to be meaningless."


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