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Friday, 20 November 2009

Why Have Africans Ignored Dead Aid?

Its certainly not this ignorant and condescending reason put forward by Booker Rising :

It could be that African journalists and academics skew Marxist, and thus are loathe to consider such a pro-capitalist book. Racial issues could be an issue as well. Some black folks do believe that "the white man's ice is colder", or some such old-school adage..
The year is 2009 and people still write things like this. The point is that Dead Aid was written for a specific X-Factor / American idol western generation much devoid of substance or experience of the problems facing our continent. To suggest that we suffer from some racial inferiority in our assessment, well is just foolish.

N.B : This is certainly the last time I quote Booker Rising on this website. I couldn't help alert readers of some of the ignorance that permeates the blogosophere that discusses "African issues".


  1. I have posted the following comment on Booker Rising:

    I think a big problem is that Dambisa Moyo presents neoliberal answers, at a time when it is becoming clear that neoliberal policies (privatisation, deregulation and free trade for corporate capital) are sinking the global economy, just as they lead to disaster in the 1920s and 1980s.

    Neoliberalism is an elite ideology, that concentrates wealth in the hands of every fewer participants in the economy. With so many people in Africa already sidelined, why would they support that, support her, or support her book?

    Also, she has an irritating habit of arguing from authority and arguing by assertion ('We know what works', etc.).

    There is also a deeper issue here. The market solution is going to ring more and more hollow, with the present shift in valuation from paper assets (stocks and bonds, derivatives) to real world assets (food, finished goods).

    Greater efficiency through free trade is not going to be such a hot item - productivity will be. Africa needs to switch from importing goods and even food, to producing more than enough food to feed itself and it needs to start manufacturing what it consumes. That means protectionism for local industries, not their certain annihilation by transnational corporations.

    We need increases in productivity, not economic efficiency.

    People need jobs, and that means supporting local agriculture and manufacturing, not throwing open borders so jobless consumers can buy the cheapest goods made in China.

    And that is the main problem with Dambisa Moyo's book. She is a neoliberal, when the end of neoliberalism has been rung in by a global economic crisis, which found it's origin in neoliberalism - free trade lead to a devastation of the US manufacturing sector; deregulation lead to the disappearance of the family farm and the takeover of farming by agribusiness corporations, as well as the financial crisis; free markets have lead to the rise of transnational corporations, who have their HQ in a tax haven, their factories in a low wage country, and their shops in the richest consumer market in the world. Very efficient if you try to maximize profits, but now those rich consumers are feeling the pinch of having their jobs disappear - they are becoming unemployed.

    This is where the loop has failed. And it is having a disastrous effect on the global economy. And yet, this is what Dambisa Moyo is defending when she offers 'market solutions' to AID.

  2. The problem is that she ignores the exploitative process of which 'AID' is only one part. Zambia could do without aid, if it was paid market value for it's copper exports. However, because of IMF meddling Zambia's mines are no longer owned by the Zambian state, but have been privatised and are owned by foreign (British, American, Canadian, Australian, Indian and now Chinese) corporations. This has lead to Zambia missing out on the boom in copper prices. In the year 2004, foreign corporations in Zambia exported $4 billion in copper and cobalt, making I would estimate about $2.4 billion in profits. That same year, these companies paid the Zambian state $6 million in taxes (gee, isn't Zambia an attractive destination for foreign investment?). However, the government received $600 million in 'donor aid', 1/4 of the profits made by foreign mining companies in Zambia. Obviously, unlike taxes, this 'donor aid' comes with strings attached, and can be withheld overnight if the 'donor countries' dislike anything about the Zambian government's domestic policies, giving them a far greater say in policies than the Zambian electorate ever will have.

    The mines themselves use their capital to buy the Zambian body politic, which is why no one seems to be able to either pass or hold on to higher taxes for the mines.

    In other words, both donor aid from foreign countries and mine ownership by foreign corporations have made the democratic process in Zambia nearly meaningless.

    This is the real issue Dambisa Moyo does not seem to address, in her zeal to elevate the private sector over the public sector.

    As long as both public and private sector are beholden to non-Zambian interests, the country is not going to develop the way the people want it to develop. And any dismissal of aid and promotion of free trade misses that point.

  3. This is a very sentive issue on the side of the beggar and the giver that Ms Moyo alludes to in her book. I for one think that the truth hurts because she clearly states in the book of lack of an economical model for most developing countries like Zambia. Waiting for someone to fix our our problems will never not steer the any form of development. We saw how the MMD under FTJ looted the donor funds plus the earnings that country got into personal coffers. I do agree that many African leaders now consider Ms Moyo as Enemy number 1 because they have kept using donor money for their own dynasty like that of King Mswati and his concubines.


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