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Africa in the Eye of the Beholder


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American Spectator:

George H. Wittman

Africa's potential economic development is a staple of commentary in publications on international affairs. What's important about this fact is that it's been this way for years, nay decades. It seems that Africa -- by which is meant sub-Saharan Africa -- is always filled with potential. Unfortunately there is very little analysis showing that potential realized.

There seems to be a very effective effort to place the ultimate blame for Africa's inability to progress in economic and political terms on what William Wallis, the experienced Financial Times editor on African affairs, refers to as "the relative failure of Europe's mission during colonial times, and more recently through development aid, to introduce rules-based systems."


Africa may not be progressing at the pace it should in the minds of those in the world of economic development. But not unsurprisingly most of this objection comes from those who have little perception of what Africa believes is actually progress and how speedily it should be sought. The bottom line is that the external powers want to make a substantial profit and in Africa the definition of profit is not the same thing. For the typical African profit means a marginal accrual of wealth, a slight improvement in living standards, and above all an improvement in self-image.


Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa
Dambisa Moyo

Publishers Weekly
In this important analysis of the past fifty years of international (largely American) aid to Africa, economist and former World Bank consultant Moyo, a native of Zambia, prescribes a tough dose of medicine: stopping the tide of money that, however well-intentioned, only promotes corruption in government and dependence in citizens. With a global perspective and on-the-ground details, Moyo reveals that aid is often diverted to the coffers of cruel despotisms, and occasionally conflicts outright with the interests of citizens-free mosquito nets, for instance, killing the market for the native who sells them. In its place, Moyo advocates a smarter, though admittedly more difficult, policy of investment that has already worked to grow the economies of poor countries like Argentina and Brazil. Moyo writes with a general audience in mind, and doesn't hesitate to slow down and explain the intricacies of, say, the bond market. This is a brief, accessible look at the goals and reasons behind anti-aid advocates, with a hopeful outlook and a respectful attitude for the well-being and good faith of all involved.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
William Easterly

Publishers Weekly
No one who attacks the humanitarian aid establishment is going to win any popularity contests, but, neither, it seems, is that establishment winning any contests with the people it is supposed to be helping. Easterly, an NYU economics professor and a former research economist at the World Bank, brazenly contends that the West has failed, and continues to fail, to enact its ill-formed, utopian aid plans because, like the colonialists of old, it assumes it knows what is best for everyone. Existing aid strategies, Easterly argues, provide neither accountability nor feedback. Without accountability for failures, he says, broken economic systems are never fixed. And without feedback from the poor who need the aid, no one in charge really understands exactly what trouble spots need fixing. True victories against poverty, he demonstrates, are most often achieved through indigenous, ground-level planning. Except in its early chapters, where Easterly builds his strategic platform atop a tower of statistical analyses, the book's wry, cynical prose is highly accessible. Readers will come away with a clear sense of how orthodox methods of poverty reduction do not help, and can sometimes worsen, poor economies. (Mar. 20)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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