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May 06, 2009

Better Aid, Not Dead Aid
Posted by Michael Cohen

The Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo has a new controversial book about aid to Africa called Dead Aid. Over at World Politics Review I offer a few thoughts on a book that reads like it was written by an economist and researched by an undergraduate:

Instead of offering ideas to improve aid Moyo takes the opposite approach, asserting that aid is altogether bad for Africa and should be gradually replaced with foreign investment. Moyo's solutions may on the surface seem reasonable, but her argument is simplistic, and even dangerous. 

 . . . Across the development spectrum, there is a raging debate over how aid can be delivered more effectively, to better reach poor Africans. In an era of fiscal belt-tightening, this debate is more crucial than ever. That Moyo wants to help her native continent is not in dispute. But the na├»ve solutions she advocates in "Dead Aid" would have the exact opposite effect, and risk emboldening those who argue for turning off the aid tap for reasons that have nothing to do with altruistic support for African countries.

Moyo would have been better off writing a book that gets to the heart of the problems facing the African continent, instead of offering a bogeyman (aid) and remedy (going cold turkey) that would only consign another generation of Africans to grinding hardship.


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