‘My purpose in life’ is the blog post I posted 3 months ago and in this post, I remember briefly having mentioned development aid. I remember that I thought that it had nothing to do with helping African countries, but instead making sure that they stayed poor. And of course, I was and still am not okay with that idea. So I decided to do some research on the subject to find out if it is really true that development or foreign aid does not benefit Africa. in the essay I wrote, I will share with you my findings. Unfortunately, I have to say that I was not far from the truth, but I also realized that despite everything Africa still needs the West. Have a blessed day reading for yourselves!
Over the past forty years, Western donor countries have poured nearly 500 billion dollars into Africa’s economy. However, this vast amount of money appears to not have benefited Africa in the long-term. The aid given to Africa even seems to have a negative effect, hampering local economies and home-grown development, keeping Africa in a state of dependence (Meredith, 2005). Foreign aid is, therefore a systematic process of keeping African countries poor because it does not benefit the locals, is wasted by corrupt governments and serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out by Western countries.
Foreign aid not beneficial to Africa
To start with, foreign aid will not improve the lives of Africans because of Africa’s poor economic policies. According to Erixon, the unfortunate fact is that most African countries are poorer today than they were at the time of their independence from colonial powers (Erixon, 2005). Donor countries are solely occupied by increasing the quantity of aid, instead of focusing on the quality of aid and how to raise a more productive use of aid. Much like Africa, Asia received foreign aid, however, it is sound economic policies that lifted millions of Asians out of poverty. For example, reports from the world bank show that out of the 700 million people who were pulled out of poverty between 1981 and 2010, 627 million of them were in China. In other words, 89.6% of these people were from China. However, in comparison to Africa, Asia received little aid, therefore this example gives a clear indication that foreign aid is not the answer (Unknown, 2014). It is bad economic policies that is keeping millions of Africans in poverty. As a matter of fact, if the idea of development in Africa through Western aid was true, many of the African countries would have eradicated extreme poverty (Erixon, 2005).
Foreign aid as a smokescreen
Secondly, foreign aid given to Africa serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out of the continent. According to Anderson, reports say that while Western countries send about 30 billion in development aid to Africa every year, more than six times that amount leaves the continent, mainly to the same countries providing the aid (Anderson, 2014). A group of NGOs has claimed that Western countries are using foreign aid as a smokescreen to hide the so-called ‘sustained looting’ of the continent as it loses nearly 60 billion a year through tax evasion, climate change mitigation and flight of profit earned by foreign multinational companies (Anderson, 2014). Equally important is a report which claims that the perception that such aid is helping Africa, has contributed to the facilitation of a perverse reality in which wealthy governments celebrate their generosity whilst simultaneously assisting their companies to drain Africa’s resources (Anderson, 2014).
Africa needs the West
Even though foreign aid may not have been as effective for Africa’s development, it is irrefutable that if the West was to abandon Africa it would slip into further chaos and disorder. Because, as Meredith claims, the solution to Africa´s malaise can only come from a combination of effective leadership by the Africans themselves and Western Assistance (Meredith, 2005). One of the reasons Africa is remaining in such poverty is the failure of its leaders to provide effective government. In general, ruling elites in Africa have been preoccupied with holding power for the purpose of self-enrichment, not for the advancement of their own people (Meredith, 2005). According to Meredith, it is estimated that some 40 percent of Africa’s private wealth is held overseas and this system of corruption and misrule has continued for more than forty years now. If this system is not reformed, Africa has little chance of escaping from poverty.
In conclusion, since Africa’s independency from colonial powers, a significant amount of aid is provided to the continent by Western countries. However, donor countries were solely occupied with the quantity of the aid instead of quality and productivity. Asian countries such as China have shown that it is not foreign aid but good economic policies that can uplift poverty. Moreover, foreign aid has helped facilitate the perverse reality in which wealthy governments celebrate their generosity whilst also assisting their companies to drain Africa’s resources. In fact, foreign aid has served as a smokescreen to hide the so-called sustained looting (Anderson, 2014). But although this may be true, it is important to note that if the West was to abandon Africa, it would probably slip into further chaos, disorder and eventually more poverty, due to a lack of effective leadership (Meredith, 2005). From this, it is to conclude that the West should provide foreign aid yet with the intention of helping African countries and provided that the aid is based on quality and productivity and not wasted by corrupt governments.
Anderson, M. (2014, July 15). Aid to Africa: donations from west mask ‘$60bn looting’ of continent. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/15/aid-africa-west-looting-continent
Erixon, F. (2005, September 11). wy aid doesn’t work. Retrieved from BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4209956.stm
Meredith, M. (2005). The fate of Africa. New York: PublicAffairs.
Unknown. (2014, Octobre 14). foreign aid is hurting, not helping Sub-Saharan Africa. Retrieved from le journal international archieves: https://www.lejournalinternational.fr/Foreign-aid-is-hurting-not-helping-Sub-Saharan-Africa_a2085.html