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Is Aid to Africa Effective?

July 11th, 2005 | 2 min read

By Andrew Selby

The German magazine Spiegel ran an article recently attacking the notion that aid to Africa is as effective as commonly conceived. The article argues that aid to third-world African countries fosters an unhealthy dependency and has been proven to be ineffective.

One major problem is that aid is delivered to governments who have almost no incentive at all to make the programs work for which the money is donated. Small businesses almost never get aid. A capitalist brother in Kenya has this to say:

James Shikwati, head of the Inter Region Economic Network in Kenya thinks that aid should be funneled into private business, rather than state projects. “Instead of looking at the private sector, where profit guarantees discipline and efficiency, politicians concentrate on governmental projects which are not subject to profit and loss.”

Also, the recent legislation by the G8 has forgiven loans to poor African countries. That really got the ire of Kenyon officials because Kenya has been faithful to pay their debts, which in the long run has been 0% helpful to them.

“Those countries who, like us, have always paid their debts have been ignored, while those countries who have simply stopped paying are now getting all the attention,” complains the Kenyan minister for planning, Peter Anyang Nyongo.

The loan forgiveness program only encourages countries to sit on their debt and wait for world leaders to forgive it.

While the situation in Africa is a sad one that calls for a great deal of help on the part of Western nations, the way we are going about it is clearly ineffective. Our post-colonial angst has caused many to blindly throw money at the perceived source of guilt in hopes it will go away. The guilt, however, will only mount as we engender dependence and undercut small business in Africa. The bottom line is that souls need to be changed in Africa by Christians to foster integrity and political leaders ought to focus on changing economic policy to establish incentive for self-reliance.