Friday, July 10, 2009

What Will Dambisa Moyo Think: G-8 Promises More Aid to Poor Countries

When Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo spoke at The Commonwealth Club in June, she made clear her contention that rich Western countries should evolve their African development programs away from open-ended commitments of money and toward investment in poor countries in ways that create jobs and strengthen institutions there. [Listen to audio.]
She argued that governments on that continent had grown content and corrupt from the flow of aid dollars, often with few strings attached, and they had no desire or need to actually provide the services their citizens need to create businesses and jobs and civic institutions. Moyo's views have been very controversial, especially among the international aid community, but they have made her an important voice in the debate over how to charge up Africa's development process.

One wonders her reaction to today's news that the G-8 leading economic powers (well, China's the third largest economy and it's not a part of the G-8, so we're going to have to think of another way of referring to that group) has pledged $20 billion over three years to poor countries in an attempt to create "food security." Critics are complaining that much of the aid pledged is recycled from previous commitments, but it might also mark a move toward Moyo's view that investment and not handouts will do more for Africans.

Reuters India reports:

... Obama, travelling to Ghana on his first trip to Africa as president, [used] the L'Aquila summit to push for a shift towards agricultural investment from food aid. Washington will make $3.5 billion available to the 3-year programme.

"There is no reason Africa should not be self-sufficient when it comes to food," said Obama, recalling that his relatives in Kenya live "in villages where hunger is real", though they themselves are not going hungry.


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