11 thoughts on “A summary and criticism of Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid”

  1. Are you from Afica yourself? or have you been on an AID and Development Project to Africa youself? Or are you just applying the scientific approach to your criticisms. I have not yet read Dambisa’s book. I am a Malawian native and carried out aid project teams to Malawi several times and my observations during the projects coincided with the title of this book. I will wait to say anything concrete. But as I read through your sriticisms and it shed some light to some factors.

  2. You are falling victim to a type of pragmatism whereby you believe all principles must be supported by a statistic to be valid. It simply isn’t true. The core arguments of her work have implied proofs that anyone with a cursory understanding of economics should understand.

    Lets take the mosquito anecdote. Opportunity cost and the law of unintended consequences are universal principles of all economic activity. It is self-evident. For every action, some other potential must be sacrificed, for every action, there are consequences (good and bad) that could not be foreseen.

    If you deny that Moyo is right that rampant corruption stagnates economic growth you should read Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith, or Moral Markets by Paul Zak. The fundamental fuel of all market activities is not greed, but trust. In the absence of trust, capital accumulation and capital investments break down. There is no need for a statistic, it is a principle of human action. If I don’t trust someone, I am less likely to give them my money. If I don’t trust that my intellectual property will be respected, or physical property, I have less incentive to take entrepreneurial risk.

    The alternative seems to be that you then believe Moyo is wrong, and giving money to dictators makes those societies wealthier, and that markets function great when the leaders of society are excessively corrupt.

    If that’s the case, where’s your evidence?

  3. no aid in Africa without exploitation of Africa. i shabani mitambo political science student university of Dar es salaam-Tanzania

  4. I have made about 15 working visits to half a dozen African countries, involved with the type of projects Moyo criticises. I think there is a lot of truth in what Moyo says, and find Moyo’s points, even as outlined by the blogger, quite convincing. The blogger concludes:
    “could it be that this is simply an overt attempt to promote a neoliberal anti aid agenda?”
    I would reply – clearly yes – for the reasons Moyo advances. However I would rephrase it as follows – an overt attempt to promote a market oriented agenda of self reliance. The expression “neoliberal” is derogatory and illustrates the blogger’s bias.
    In any society, there are entrepreneurial, acquisitve, ambitious, energetic individuals who want to get ahead. In developed countries, most of them go into private business because public sector rewards are not high. They motivate a vigorous private sector economy. Unfortunately in many developing countries, such individuals are attracted to the public sector because that is where the opportunities for gain lie (through rent-seeking/corruption).

  5. In my experience as a development economist-having worked both in central bank and higher learning institutions- and having walked through Dambisa’s analysis; my outlook is that-aid is just a tiny factor towards Africa’s chronic underdevelopment problems! In addition to how the state functions, the crucial element that has been ignored (in Moyo’s ways of attacking foreign aid) is cultural values and attitudes that stand in the way of progress. It makes many people uncomfortable to acknowledge that some cultures produce greater well-being than others. Progress-prone cultures cross religious and racial lines. In addition to the Confucian cultures of East Asia, they include Basques, Sikhs, Jews, Mormons and Armenians, not to mention the mainstream culture of the West. Such cultures share the belief that one’s destiny can be influenced through considered action, and they attach high value to work, education, achievement and saving. Progress-resistant cultures tend to be passive and fatalistic, less entrepreneurial, less committed to education and savings.

    A growing number of Latin Americans, novelist Mario Vargas Llosa among them, have come to the conclusion that culture is at the root of the region’s underdevelopment.

    At continental level, endangered by serious poverty and increased levels of corruption, Africa requires an energy of knowledge to inspire and shape its political, economic and social destiny. Despite much support from developed countries and related international bodies, Africa’s problems seem unending and most international bodies are seeking new way of pulling this great continent out of the current political upheavals and economic havoc. This solution lies in a fresh breath of leadership based on the tap of new knowledge having futuristic creative potential. Such brains can be derived from a select set of gifted and talented persons. However, the tap of talents or knowledge of talents in Africa remains one of the hot topics in societies with no real action. Education remains a routine in Africa where students crame or memorise tutors notes, and reproduce them onto foolscaps during examinations. The net result is a collection of papers in the form of certificates which have no correlation with expectations of work organizations or innate talents and gifts of the candidates.

    Africa has many scholars with PhDs and Master’s degrees but has nothing to show of it! Many of them will never set foot on the field and many are probably good at teaching, but never good at inventions and innovations. The continent is merely dominated by a generation of noise makers- who can talk almost all the time but do not act. It is very annoying to hear some of the experts giving speeches over the radios and scheduled expensive meeting while reserving the real action to happen to day and instead push the actual action onto the future generation. You can expect very little from such hence there is need for a fresh dimension in education with a bias to new education models, embracing gifts and talents that can lift the continent out from its current economic havoc.

  6. The truth of Moyo’s claim that Aid has caused more harm than good for Africa can be clearly realized when one understands what it means for the West when Africa becomes self reliant. Moyo ia only giving economic analyses of the neocolonial agenda in Africa. Nkrumah dealt with the political in Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism.

    Read John Perkens Confessions of the Economic Hit Man and you will also find proof to autenticate Moyo’s claims.

  7. The biggest problem we have in Africa is that we do not realise that our situation of perpetual poverty, corruption, drought and general chaos provides people from ‘developed nations’ with work to do. How many countries bring developmental or even humanitarian aid without strings attached? African governments are given aid with conditions attached to it which means that before you accept the aid, you are told what the money is for and it is never for sustainable ventures that will leave Africans in charge of vibrant running economies. Its like a case of finding a well paying job; It pays enough to attract you and your services without giving you the means to actually get rich. You might be unimpressed with her research skills but her reasoning is sound and it speaks for and connects with any African mind and heart. One thing the critics of this book are correct on is the result of what would happen should Africa say no to developmental aid. The loss of livelihoods will be massive! Imagine how many European consultants litter the African continent managing the aid from their home nations because the African can not be trusted to manage such large sums! Think of how many people sit in plush capitals like London, Paris, Stockholme etc and plan on how much will be sent to Africa and carry out due dilligence on applicants from Africa applying for funding, automatically dimissing those not working in partnership with a western company that can pass the scrutiny. Aid is not and can never be an element of sustainable development and Africa needs a market that is free and fosters competition and sustainability. Africa has problems that are of its own making which we can not blame on aid, one of which is ‘corruption’. If the waste wants to send aid to Africa, it might do so by aiding us to get rid of corruption, thus giving our projects, our dreams and our children, a hope that one day Africa can be able to stand on its own feet and look upon its own for salvation.

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