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In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse. In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse. In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined—and millions continue to suffer. Provocatively drawing a sharp contrast between African countries that have rejected the aid route and prospered and others that have become aid-dependent and seen poverty increase, Moyo illuminates the way in which overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries that guarantees economic growth and a significant decline in poverty—without reliance on foreign aid or aid-related assistance. Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.


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In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse. In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse. In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined—and millions continue to suffer. Provocatively drawing a sharp contrast between African countries that have rejected the aid route and prospered and others that have become aid-dependent and seen poverty increase, Moyo illuminates the way in which overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries that guarantees economic growth and a significant decline in poverty—without reliance on foreign aid or aid-related assistance. Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.

30 review for Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Dead Aid is an interesting, provocative look at the foreign aid industry and its effects on Africa. Dambisa Moyo, who formerly worked for Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, draws a conclusion not unknown to others in the field: development aid (as differentiated from humanitarian aid) has not only done little good for the nations of Africa but has indeed caused great harm. While I don't necessarily disagree with her conclusion, I didn't find her arguments particularly convincing. There is no quest Dead Aid is an interesting, provocative look at the foreign aid industry and its effects on Africa. Dambisa Moyo, who formerly worked for Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, draws a conclusion not unknown to others in the field: development aid (as differentiated from humanitarian aid) has not only done little good for the nations of Africa but has indeed caused great harm. While I don't necessarily disagree with her conclusion, I didn't find her arguments particularly convincing. There is no question that much of the aid intended to build economies in Africa has been grossly wasted, stolen, and misused. There is little to show for the trillions of dollars that have been poured into the continent--a failure with numerous causes. But Moyo's main premise is that aid itself is the cause, that it creates a culture dependent on foreign handouts and rife with corruption that, according to the author, apparently wouldn't exist if aid weren't available. I find both arguments hard to swallow, especially since they are based mostly on the logical premise of cum hoc ergo propter hoc (with this, therefore because of this). In this thinking, when aid is given, the recipients don't develop other resources, therefore aid causes them to not try. It's the same argument that's been used for years to oppose welfare programs applied in this instance not to individuals, but to entire nations. I find that a little facile. I suspect aid fails more often because it is poorly structured and managed, an argument that Moyo essentially dismisses out of hand. Whether you agree with Moyo's reasoning or not, you have to seriously question the solutions she proposes. While outlining a litany of worthwhile approaches to economic development including micro-lending, opening markets in the developed world to African products, and more foreign direct investment (FDI), her silver bullet is a solution only an investment banker could love: the bond market. Somehow, Moyo expects the magic of the free market financial system to end corruption in Africa, stop wasteful spending, and power the continent out of poverty. I react to that proposal the same way Jaime Talon, one of the lead characters in my novel, Heart of Diamonds, did when confronted by a similar argument about a panhandler in New York: "What matters is that right now--today--that man over there is hungry. Somebody needs to do something about that, not just ignore it and hope the holy and all-powerful market economy will provide a solution." I have to ask, given the brilliant performance of Wall Street and Fleet Street in providing structured finance for America and Europe, how can we expect them to solve the problems of Africa? These are the people who brought us sub-sub-prime mortgages wrapped in gilt-edged bond ratings and called gold. Their ability to assess risk and police wasteful government spending in Kinshasa is rather suspect, at least to me. I also fail to see how corrupt leaders and their minions will be any less likely to steal funds from private lenders than they are from the World Bank. Perhaps my most significant objection, though is when Moyo says the developing nations will be better served paying ten percent interest (the rate she quotes for emerging market debt in 2007) than the 0.75% they are charged by the World Bank. How does that work to anyone's advantage other than the investment bankers? Don't misunderstand my review. I agree with many of Moyos' conclusions and her objections to the current approach to foreign aid. Mandating the purchase of American products with American aid dollars, for example, is enormously wasteful, self-serving, and undoubtedly harms the African farmers and manufacturers such aid could help. She's also dead on when she calls for an improved business climate in Africa so that direct investment, both foreign and local, stands a better chance to succeed. Pulling Africa out of the swamp of poverty is a complex operation. I applaud Dambisa Moyo for presenting a provocative set of arguments in clear, understandable layman's prose. Dead Aid brings an important subject into the public eye.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tinea

    Woah woah woah. First of all, what is with the foreward here? "The simple fact that Dead Aid is the work of an African black woman is the least of the reasons why you should read it. But it is a good reason nonetheless." What Niall Ferguson means here is he found a person with the right national & gender background to prop up as a mouthpiece for his neoliberal economic agenda (which he then gleefully presents in the rest of the forward) and could all the critics calling it colonial back off now Woah woah woah. First of all, what is with the foreward here? "The simple fact that Dead Aid is the work of an African black woman is the least of the reasons why you should read it. But it is a good reason nonetheless." What Niall Ferguson means here is he found a person with the right national & gender background to prop up as a mouthpiece for his neoliberal economic agenda (which he then gleefully presents in the rest of the forward) and could all the critics calling it colonial back off now huh?? I have a suspicion that there's a lot of this kind of tokenism behind this book's enormous popularity. It's an ok book with a few new ideas but not many then aren't already argued better elsewhere. I mean, I am a huge fan of standpoint theory, but it's disingenuous when the only African voices lauded by a certain ideology are the ones that conveniently support it with no mention of the countless ones opposed. That said, it's refreshing to hear someone arguing for the gamut of trade, privatization, and opening of financial markets from a cutthroat perspective in which African countries/corporations profit instead of foreign banks. But in the end it's the same old same old, and she doesn't examine inequality; money to governments and business elites might raise a GDP but it doesn't necessarily mean much for poor people, the ostensible targets of much of the aid she criticizes. And while I agree with a lot of her criticisms of aid in the form of loans and vast grants directly to governments (aid's fucked! we know this!), I think many (not all!) of her solutions have the potential to be equally disastrous. Not all though. The solutions are worth a think about, especially regarding remittances and migration, giving money to local farmers/businesses/manufacturers instead of donating stuff, and China's style of investment (though here she glosses over labor & human rights abuses, not least of which is that China brings its own labor to work on many of its projects. also: landgrabbing.). Interestingly, one of Moyo's biggest problems with aid is the lack of conditionality attached to it. As in, even if countries are corrupt and leaders spend aid money on frivolities like private jets, they still get money next year. She comes down hard on people like Sachs who uncritically encourage mass increases in aid but surprisingly soft on conditionalities (agendas! conditionalities are code for agendas! you know this!) that destroy infrastructre, safety nets, and social services. If you're going to call out the system, call out the whole system. For a much more well-researched (free of Moyo's careless correlation = causation conclusions) and biting pro-market critique that somewhat mirror's Moyo's same perspective, see Stiglitz's Globalization and Its Discontents.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sleepless Dreamer

    Books like these are pretty much my only motivation to continue studying economics, even when it's very shitty. With an impressive CV and tons of passion, Moyo argues that aid has not been helpful to African countries. In fact, she claims aid has actually harmed them. Half of the book is dedicated to this argument while the other half digs into alternative ideas. The writing is clear and straightforward but as someone who's in their first years of Economics and Business, I still occasionally fel Books like these are pretty much my only motivation to continue studying economics, even when it's very shitty. With an impressive CV and tons of passion, Moyo argues that aid has not been helpful to African countries. In fact, she claims aid has actually harmed them. Half of the book is dedicated to this argument while the other half digs into alternative ideas. The writing is clear and straightforward but as someone who's in their first years of Economics and Business, I still occasionally felt a little out of my depth. Although Moyo tries, some parts were too technical (okay yes, i'm a baby who hasn't understood how the heck global investment works but pls, maybe if it'll be explained to me one more time, i'll get it). So I'm not sure if this book is right for someone who doesn't come from these fields, as I technically come from those fields and still felt lost. That said, even without fully understanding the technical elements, there's a lot to take from this book. It's illuminating to consider how various economic theory elements could shape Africa and Moyo's arguments are largely convincing, even if I am not fully comfortable with free market principles as a catch-all solution. All this said, it seems there's an issue that Moyo does not manage to resolve fully. Moyo recognizes that the leaders of the African countries have zero incentive to stop taking aid. The countries who give aid clearly don't particularly care how much this aid actually works and won't stop giving it as it removes pressure to own up for past mistakes and forges political alliances. It seems her audience is Western civilians, in the hopes that they will pressure their governments. This seems an odd solution. "Stop giving aid to Africa" doesn't have the same ring to it as "help starving children". Is this really who we trust with this? Moyo's argument is an economic one and I wonder how much of it could be translated to the public and transformed to actions. Near the end, Moyo points out that corruption and political instability play a big role here. My kneejerk reaction is to assume that this is certainly a crucial part. Economic theory is well known. The challenge is taking countries that are struggling and pushing them onto a successful route. As an economic answer, this book is satisfying but I'm not content with the political elements. Many of Moyo's arguments were fascinating to me because I hadn't considered them at all. For example, she argues that democracy is not always a solution. Sometimes, it is better to begin with a dictator who fixes the economy and then build up into elections. That is, a pressured dictator might be better than an unstable government. This seems incredibly relevant, maybe more democracies would be stable if we prioritized stability over the photo-op of elections and only then built up to democracy. Moyo doesn't dig into democratic culture but I often feel that that's a key factor. If you do not value democracy on a civilian level, how can you expect to have a stable democracy? I also didn't realize the role of tariffs and subsidies on a global scale. When we learned about this during my Economics classes, we discussed at length their abilities to strengthen local produce but we never spoke about the impact on poorer countries, the way that strengthening the local producers comes at the price of poorer countries who can't participate, especially with the EU. There was something almost envious in Moyo's tone as she discussed Asian countries who have managed to get to economic success. Certainly, there's much to learn from the Asian Tigers but I often feel economic thought lacks space for cultural nuance- what worked in Taiwan might not work in Ghana. Economics isn't a one-size fits all, as I see it. Of course, economics for emerging economies is fascinating because it forces us to question precisely this; how international and vast are the principles used by the West. The discussion on Chinese influence was also very interesting. I feel a little uneasy at the thought of China developing parts of Africa in return for power, essentially. I suppose this is the part of me that still feels American and is concerned by that development, in light of the labor used and the human rights but Moyo makes an interesting argument for such investment, as it helps African countries more than aid. To conclude, this is well researched and very interesting. If you'd like to understand more on aid and how it can hurt the economy, this is a solid read. Economics is still a stupid field, though (this totally isn't me being stressed over an assignment that I haven't started). What I'm Taking With Me - Can all African countries be categorized like this? I mean, isn't it too broad? - It's depressing to recognize that Africa can have so much potential and yet, nothing has really worked enough. - Most Israelis also feel the aid we get given is problematic- it hurts Israeli industries by forcing Israel to buy weapons from the US and it creates a sense of both obligation towards the US ("we give you aid so you need to do what we tell you") and dependency that isn't relevant anymore. We're among the most developed countries in the world and around the 30th richest per capita, let's build a healthier relationship. - Someone be proud of me for writing reviews, despite the fact that I've basically been a mess for the last 10 days and I'm behind on most of my courses. Priorities! ------------------------ To the sound of stun grenades, police sirens and rioting, I did dialogue with Palestinians this evening. I'm not scared, I'm just pissed. What the fuck, Jerusalem? Review to come!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    An extremely neoliberal approach to the problem of development in Africa. Written by a Zambian economist - educated in the UK & US (you can tell) - the book outlines both the problems with current aid to Africa and suggests how the market can offer a better solution. It was an extremely interesting read - not least the chapter on China - however, there is no disguising that it is a very one-sided view of the problems facing Africa. Noting the issues with infrastructure and liquidity, Moyo offers m An extremely neoliberal approach to the problem of development in Africa. Written by a Zambian economist - educated in the UK & US (you can tell) - the book outlines both the problems with current aid to Africa and suggests how the market can offer a better solution. It was an extremely interesting read - not least the chapter on China - however, there is no disguising that it is a very one-sided view of the problems facing Africa. Noting the issues with infrastructure and liquidity, Moyo offers market-based solutions for Africa to help itself by tracking various market mechanisms and their effect on the fictional country of Donga. This was my problem with the book. Despite being written by an African Economist I think it gave a very narrowminded perspective of development. A lot of the suggestions are difficult to implement and whilst I'm sure the economic solutions would work I felt that Moyo underestimated the social and political spheres in which these solutions must operate. Nevertheless a good and interesting perspective on the aid problem.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    This little book has been a hit with economists who think that the only solution to grinding third world (African) poverty must be market-based. While it makes good points--particularly that humanitarian aid to Africa hasn't worked as a way to start economic development--those points get lost in Moyo's scattershot approach and lack of documentation. I am sure she has read everything available on the subject but there is no bibliography and only sketchy notes so she doesn't tell us where she got This little book has been a hit with economists who think that the only solution to grinding third world (African) poverty must be market-based. While it makes good points--particularly that humanitarian aid to Africa hasn't worked as a way to start economic development--those points get lost in Moyo's scattershot approach and lack of documentation. I am sure she has read everything available on the subject but there is no bibliography and only sketchy notes so she doesn't tell us where she got her ideas or even her facts. Her style is a real problem--she slides from analysis to polemic without transition so that it is sometimes difficult to tell whether she is asserting an opinion or citing evidence based findings. Moyo seems smart as a whip with courage of her convictions and a fierce loyalty to her homeland, Zambia, and to sub-Saharan Africa generally. She is an energetic advocate but not a very convincing one. Her combination of African heritage and attacks on received wisdom (although she demolishes a few strawmen along the way) means that she has a good story, ready made for soundbites, helped along in our media obsessed Western culture by the fact that she is (based on author photos in the book and on the net) staggeringly attractive. If a more typical holder of her credentials--excellent degrees from Harvard and Oxford, positions at Goldman Sachs and the World Bank--had presented this book for publication he/she may well have been told to come back when it was actually a book and not an intermediate draft that needed more work. And a lot of copy editing--Moyo is not a particularly felicitous writer. She doesn't spare the West in her list of what is wrong and how to fix it, going after the important issues like trade barriers, subsidies and immigration restrictions and is particularly hard on her fellow Africans pointing out that humanitarian aid makes control of a government valuable and so encourages armed rebellion, civil war and the horrors of mass population relocation. Succeeding in a rebellion and running the government means the winners have access to the many millions of dollars, Euros and pounds that continue to flow. Recommended only as a quick primer for some of the main disputes in the foreign policy and humanitarian nexus.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    Africa is this huge, Africa-shaped continent south of Eurasia and kind of east of South America. It’s well known for many reasons, such as elephants, lions (but not tigers or bears), and cheetahs. It’s the place where modern hominins evolved … yet now, millions of years later, it is one of the most impoverished places on Earth. Of course, I’m speaking broadly here. As anyone who has actually done much work on or in Africa will tell you, and as Dambisa Moyo points out in her book, “Africa” is a c Africa is this huge, Africa-shaped continent south of Eurasia and kind of east of South America. It’s well known for many reasons, such as elephants, lions (but not tigers or bears), and cheetahs. It’s the place where modern hominins evolved … yet now, millions of years later, it is one of the most impoverished places on Earth. Of course, I’m speaking broadly here. As anyone who has actually done much work on or in Africa will tell you, and as Dambisa Moyo points out in her book, “Africa” is a convenient political fiction. There is such a diversity of nations, people, languages, cultures, and societies in Africa. Some countries are prospering even as they deal with a crisis in HIV/AIDS. Some countries are mired in years of dictatorial rule, torn by civil war, hungry from years of regular famine. Of course, you already know this. It’s hard not to know it—though it might slip to the back of our incredibly cluttered consciousnesses until recalled by one of those TV ads. You know the ones I mean, with the images of malnourished children accompanied by a voiceover telling us how we can help with “only $1 a day”. Meanwhile, we’re told that our governments are not sending enough money to Africa, not investing enough in aid, not helping to meet various development goals. We’d fix the problem, if only we committed to more aid. But why hasn’t the existing aid worked? What if sending less aid is the solution? That’s what Dambisa Moyo proposes in Dead Aid, and on the surface it seems counterintuitive. Yet there are also some readily apparent arguments for her thesis. Firstly, imposing an external solution on Africa (mostly by attaching various “conditionalities” to our aid, not to mention deciding which nations get that aid) isn’t going to work, and it’s just an extension of the colonialism that is partly what contributed to the mess in the first place. Secondly, there are many countries that have received metaphorical truckloads of money—yet their citizens remain in poverty, their infrastructure is underdeveloped, and their government officials are corrupt. There is an inverse correlation between amount of aid received and an African nation’s prosperity, and according to Moyo, this correlation is actually causation at work. Do I believe her? I don’t know. Honestly, economics is still over my head, despite the fact that I can run circles around the differential equations it employs. I can do the math, but the meaning behind it is lost on me; with more work I could probably learn more, but I don’t find it all that interesting. And that’s a shame, because I understand (begrudgingly) how important it is. Moyo’s argument has some convincing features. She begins by examining the history of aid to Africa and follows up by speculating what would happen if we “turned off the tap” gradually over five years. Her ultimate hope is that a mixture of foreign investment—as we’ve seen from China—and emerging free markets would allow the economies of many African nations to recover. It’s the economy, she claims, that is essential to the spread of democracy, freedom, and wellbeing the continent over, not the other way around. By the way, if you do understand the economics behind the math, then Moyo can hook you up: Dead Aid is full of statistics and figures and a cogent (at least from my limited perspective) analysis of the facts. It’s impressive, but at the same time I’m glad the book is as short as it is. There are some salient points to Moyo’s argument with which I completely agree. For instance, it is outrageous that countries in Africa often have to borrow more money (i.e., accept more aid) to pay back the interest owed on previous aid. It’s a vicious cycle, and suddenly all that chatter I heard as a child about “forgiving debt” makes a lot more sense. I don’t see how anyone expects these countries to work their way back into the black if we’re constantly pushing them into the red with demands for aid repaid plus interest. If we give aid because we have this idea that all the African countries need is enough money to get them standing on their own, then that idea is wrong. I think Moyo is right, however, when she conjectures that we often give aid because it is habitual and because it looks good. Giving aid makes us feel better, even if it isn’t actually effective. (When I say “aid” here, like Moyo I am talking about money lent by foreign governments and funds like the World Bank and the IMF, not emergency relief from organizations like the Red Cross.) Giving aid can also be competitive; no one wants to be the first country to stop giving aid! So just as the African countries are trapped in a vicious cycle, so too are the governments and organizations dedicated to helping them. Moyo seems awfully optimistic about the potential for free market solutions. She thinks aid is in many ways harmful: it breeds corruption, curtails export income, and costs taxpayers money because the government still has to pay interest whether or not it uses the aid. Remove aid from the equation, and she says that homegrown solutions will emerge, citing numerous micro-finance schemes that lend to groups of borrowers who use trust as collateral. She even mentions M-Pesa, which I had previously heard about on an episode of Spark. (Interestingly, she does not mention that M-Pesa was initially funded by the UK’s Department for International Development.) I can’t quite muster Moyo’s enthusiasm, but I agree with her on one component of the argument: solutions for Africa are more likely to come from Africans and people who have lived in Africa for much of their lives. I don’t know much about the sociopolitical nature of Africa; Moyo mentions countries I had never heard of prior to reading Dead Aid. It’s obvious, though, that there are unique challenges in climate, terrain, and population distribution that Africans are more familiar with. Therefore, they are better equipped to develop innovative ways of overcoming these obstacles—mobile micro-finance is but one of them. While we should not abandon Africa and leave it to its own devices, it is clear that the current system does not work. Pumping more money into it will not work. Rather, we should look at how we can help Africans regain their own agency—and this is Moyo’s particular solution. Sometimes I think she waxes slightly idealistic: for example, I sincerely doubt that her proposals to reduce subsidies to farmers in developed countries will be met with much acclaim. There is just so much pressure to buy local food. Moyo has some good ideas, but she does tackle the problem from a narrow, very market-centric perspective. Niall Ferguson, whose Ascent of Money I’ve read, provides the foreword for Dead Aid. He opens by talking about how most of the discussion about Africa and aid has been done by non-African white men, saying, “The simple fact that Dead Aid is the work of an African black woman is the least of the reasons why you should read it. But it is a good reason nonetheless.” Well, I think he could have phrased it better, but he’s right. Just look at who gets invited to debates about how “we” should “help Africa”; look at the economists who advise various government aid departments. Ultimately, as Moyo articulates with a palpable sense of frustration on her part, if we want to see Africans succeed, the rest of the world needs to stop treating them like children—and that includes pumping unlimited money into the country in the hope that it will somehow make things better. So I guess you could say that Dead Aid moved me and provoked me to think, and that is always a good thing for a book to do. I don’t agree with Moyo entirely, and her book isn’t perfect: its length is an advantage for the reader, but it means she has to summarize where she might prefer to rhapsodize. She succeeds in convincing me that aid can be more harmful than helpful, and that a more nuanced view of the situation is necessary if we are going to improve it. I’m not sure all her proposed solutions are sound, but at least she is trying to come up with some.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Beth Haynes

    I just finished reading Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo. Her primary thesis is that not only has aid not helped to end poverty (a view also held by William Easterly: The White Man's Burden and The Elusive Quest for Growth, Peter Bauer, and others) but on balance, aid does more harm than good. Moyo has a PhD in economics, interestingly obtained under the tutelage of foreign aid advocate, Dr. Paul Collier (The Bottom Billion). The book is short and quickly glosses over multiple topics. For someone unfamilia I just finished reading Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo. Her primary thesis is that not only has aid not helped to end poverty (a view also held by William Easterly: The White Man's Burden and The Elusive Quest for Growth, Peter Bauer, and others) but on balance, aid does more harm than good. Moyo has a PhD in economics, interestingly obtained under the tutelage of foreign aid advocate, Dr. Paul Collier (The Bottom Billion). The book is short and quickly glosses over multiple topics. For someone unfamiliar with the history and controversies surrounding foreign aid, this book could be one good place to start --but as a defense of her thesis, it falls short. Her arguments are plausible, especially for someone already skeptical of government intervention into economic affairs. A convincing presentation, however, would require much more empirical data and analysis in order to substantiate the claims. Wanting to obtain an opposing point of view, I asked my favorite Keynesian for his recommendation--and he sent me the link to Stephen Lewis' segment in the following debate. I highly recommend watching at least the opening statements of this star panel which in addition to Lewis includes Moyo, Collier and Hernando de Soto (The Mystery of Capital). The 2009 Munk Debates: "Be it resolved, foreign aid does more harm than good"

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jake B

    I don't think the author ever really made the case for her proposal. She did however make some fairly compelling critiques of an aid model which may or may not reflect current reality. My biggest disappointment is that her proposals (chiefly financing through bonds and FDI) while interesting are tossed out as though their benefits are self-evident. There were scattered sentences here and there which could have formed the nucleus of arguments for her position, but these often appeared late in the I don't think the author ever really made the case for her proposal. She did however make some fairly compelling critiques of an aid model which may or may not reflect current reality. My biggest disappointment is that her proposals (chiefly financing through bonds and FDI) while interesting are tossed out as though their benefits are self-evident. There were scattered sentences here and there which could have formed the nucleus of arguments for her position, but these often appeared late in the book and almost as asides. Regarding bonds, her chief arguments seem to be: 1) the free market would be less tolerant of corruption and better at discovering honest partners than aid directors 2) FDI is somehow immune to corruption Neither of these arguments is supported in depth. In addition, regarding FDI she doesn't give a credible explanation for how this model works for the vast majority of African nations without extensive oil reserves.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cav

    "What is perhaps most amazing is that there is no other sector, whether it be business or politics, where such proven failures are allowed to persist in the face of such stark and unassailable evidence. So there we have it: sixty years, over US$1 trillion dollars of African aid, and not much good to show for it. Were aid simply innocuous – just not doing what it claimed it would do – this book would not have been written. The problem is that aid is not benign – it’s malignant. No longer part of t "What is perhaps most amazing is that there is no other sector, whether it be business or politics, where such proven failures are allowed to persist in the face of such stark and unassailable evidence. So there we have it: sixty years, over US$1 trillion dollars of African aid, and not much good to show for it. Were aid simply innocuous – just not doing what it claimed it would do – this book would not have been written. The problem is that aid is not benign – it’s malignant. No longer part of the potential solution, it’s part of the problem – in fact aid is the problem..." I enjoy reading books about Africa, and the attention-grabbing, somewhat unorthodox title of this one caught my eye. I am generally fond of books by contrarian thinkers, and this one did not disappoint. Author Dambisa Moyo is an international economist who writes on the macroeconomy and global affairs. Ms. Moyo was named by Time Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World”, and was named to the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Forum. Her work regularly appears in economic and finance-related publications such as the Financial Times, the Economist Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Dambisa Moyo: I should add right up front that - despite the attention-grabbing title of this book, Dead Aid is an optimistic work. Moyo is an African herself, and she says early-on that her writing is meant to be positive and actionable. She lays out a thesis here: "This book provides a blueprint, a road map, for Africa to wean itself off aid. This goal cannot be easily achieved without the cooperation of the donors. And like the challenges someone addicted to drugs might face, the withdrawal is bound to be painful. Drug-taker, or drug-pusher, in the end someone has to have the courage to say no." Dead Aid is a data-driven look into the issue of foreign aid to the continent of Africa. The book has a foreword by historian Niall Ferguson. The writing here is very good; Dambisa Moyo writes in an easy, engaging style that makes this one very readable. The book also contains many excellent quotables. Countries in Africa have been the recipients of over $1 *trillion* of aid in the last 60 or so years. Is aid the right way to help Africa? Sending money in the form of aid is a social policy, like many others, and its results can be measured empirically; with a broad range of metrics and data sets. If sending large sums of money to Africa has been beneficial, what metrics and data might we see that would support this assertion? If aid was not beneficial, what would those metrics look like? Testing a hypothesis against empirical data is at the heart of scientific theory, but sadly, this same epistemological rigour is rarely applied to social theory and policy. It seems that; at the least - there should be some aggregate cost/benefit analysis done on the topic of this extremely expensive decades-long social policy. Thomas Sowell wrote with great clarity on this topic in his book Intellectuals and Society. I highly recommend any readers of this review to check that one out, as well. Moyo writes that the aid hypothesis has not been examined. Instead, this aid orthodoxy has been doubled-down on, and there has been an increase in the amount of aid sent to Africa: "More than US$2 trillion of foreign aid has been transferred from rich countries to poor over the past fifty years – Africa the biggest recipient, by far. Yet regardless of the motivation for aid-giving – economic, political or moral – aid has failed to deliver the promise of sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. At every turn of the development tale of the last five decades, policymakers have chosen to maintain the status quo and furnish Africa with more aid..." What has been the overall effect of the influx of these hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to the countries of Africa? Results that have been contrary to initial aims, writes Moyo: "With an average per capita income of roughly US$1 a day, sub-Saharan Africa remains the poorest region in the world. Africa’s real per capita income today is lower than in the 1970s, leaving many African countries at least as poor as they were forty years ago. With over half of the 700 million Africans living on less than a dollar a day, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of poor people in the world – some 50 per cent of the world’s poor. And while the number of the world’s population and proportion of the world’s people in extreme poverty fell after 1980, the proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa living in abject poverty increased to almost 50 per cent. Between 1981 and 2002, the number of people in the continent living in poverty nearly doubled, leaving the average African poorer today than just two decades ago... ...Life expectancy has stagnated – Africa is the only continent where life expectancy is less than sixty years; today it hovers around fifty years, and in some countries it has fallen back to what it was in the 1950s (lifeexpectancy in Swaziland is a paltry thirty years). The decrease in life expectancy is mainly attributed to the rise of the HIV—AIDS pandemic. One in seven children across the African continent die before the age of five. These statistics are particularly worrying in that (as with many other developing regions of the world), roughly 50 per cent of Africa’s population is young – below the age of fifteen years... ...Adult literacy across most African countries has plummeted below pre- 1980 levels. Literacy rates, health indicators (malaria, water-borne diseases such as bilharzia and cholera) and income inequality all remain a cause for worry. And still across important indicators, the trend in Africa is not just downwards: Africa is (negatively) decoupling from the progress being made across the rest of the world. Even with African growth rates averaging 5 per cent a year over the past several years, the Africa Progress Panel pointed out in 2007 that growth is still short of the 7 per cent that needs to be sustained to make substantial inroads into poverty reduction." Far from being beneficial, making African nations dependant on foreign aid has had disastrous effects on the economies of these countries, and the lives of the average citizens there. Paradoxically, the question of issuing this aid has somehow still remained above consideration. Moyo says that: "Aid engenders laziness on the part of the African policymakers. This may in part explain why, among many African leaders, there prevails a kind of insouciance, a lack of urgency, in remedying Africa’s critical woes. Because aid flows are viewed (rightly so) as permanent income, policymakers have no incentive to look for other, better ways of financing their country’s longer-term development. As detailed later in this book, these options, like foreign direct investment and accessing the debt markets, offer more-diversified and greater prospects for sustainable development." So, what are the solutions to this problem? Moyo writes at length about a multi-pronged approach that centers mainly around broader African access to markets. This will, in turn, foster greater African productivity and encourage the organic economic growth necessary for these countries to become prosperous and independent. She argues this case well here, and I found her arguments somewhat compelling. Overall, I did enjoy Dead Aid; the author's writing style and the formatting and presentation of the material. Moyo did a great job fielding this very controversial topic with a rational, level-headed approach. I would recommend this book to anyone interested. 4.5 stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Josine

    I wanted to love this book because it seemed to articulate my own rising skepticism toward aid after a couple of years working in the international development sector. Dambisa Moyo makes some interesting points around corruption and impunity and this book serves a useful purpose as a polemic to shake up debate around how aid is done. Moyo is an economist not a writer, though, and she misses the opportunity to draw the reader into a clear and cohesive narrative with well-explored, well-explained I wanted to love this book because it seemed to articulate my own rising skepticism toward aid after a couple of years working in the international development sector. Dambisa Moyo makes some interesting points around corruption and impunity and this book serves a useful purpose as a polemic to shake up debate around how aid is done. Moyo is an economist not a writer, though, and she misses the opportunity to draw the reader into a clear and cohesive narrative with well-explored, well-explained evidence. At best, it feels like a list of facts and figures with slightly half-baked conclusions; at worst, it feels like blatant shoe-horning of evidence to fit a pre-decided conclusion. I would love to see a more robust study of the potential for market engagement to transform developing economies, and for systems which incentivise transparency and accountability by design.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Derek Simon

    As the title suggests, Dambisa Moyo's argument is that not only is foreign aid in Africa not working, it is actually the main cause of Africa's failure to reach its full economic and social potential. This is an interesting and provocative thesis, and one that certainly challenges allot of mainstream thinking. However, if you are expecting that Dr. Moyo will challenge conventional thinking with some hard evidence, you may be dissapointed. The book mainly consists of some mainstream free market e As the title suggests, Dambisa Moyo's argument is that not only is foreign aid in Africa not working, it is actually the main cause of Africa's failure to reach its full economic and social potential. This is an interesting and provocative thesis, and one that certainly challenges allot of mainstream thinking. However, if you are expecting that Dr. Moyo will challenge conventional thinking with some hard evidence, you may be dissapointed. The book mainly consists of some mainstream free market economic analysis, with very little in the way of real world facts and figures to back it up. She occasionally cites some studies that supposedly support her points, without telling the reader what the studies were about or what they actually found. And she seems to rely on pithy quotes and anecdotes that support her views allot more than studies or hard evidence. It's too bad, because my sense is that some of her analysis is probably right. However, she simply doesn't take the time to back it up with much in the way of real hard evidence. Ultimately, Dr. Moyo's book doesn't really deliver on its promise.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    Dead Aid, in a well-researched and convincing manner, describes the past and current justifications for humanitarian and development aid in Africa, the drawbacks and failures of this method, and suggests several alternatives for the future. As a layman in the field, I appreciated the clear and coherent writing style and logical construction of the arguments. As a layman, though, I also lack the background to objectively judge the value of the alternate plans she proposes. I do have some uneducat Dead Aid, in a well-researched and convincing manner, describes the past and current justifications for humanitarian and development aid in Africa, the drawbacks and failures of this method, and suggests several alternatives for the future. As a layman in the field, I appreciated the clear and coherent writing style and logical construction of the arguments. As a layman, though, I also lack the background to objectively judge the value of the alternate plans she proposes. I do have some uneducated opinions, though. First of all, I cannot believe that her thesis was so controversial because much of it seems like common sense to me. The idea that there’s no such thing as money for nothing is widely valued throughout the world. So why did the aid funding bodies believe that throwing free money at Africa would solve its problems? To me, it seems obvious that you help someone more by buying something from them than from giving them a handout. If for no other reason than because there is a lot more mutual respect between the parties in a commercial transaction than in begging and handing out which engenders resentment by implying that one party has and the other has not. Secondly, it seems obvious that the aid process is deeply flawed because Moyo argues that there is a correlation between countries which receive aid and the excesses that the rulers of those countries allow themselves (like Mobutu hiring the Concorde and Mugabe’s wife’s shopping trips). But she doesn’t explicitly say that Mobutu paid for the Concorde with aid money, implying that there is uncertainty about which fund the money was funneled from. If $1 million goes missing in Zimbabwe, how is it possible to not know which fund it came from? Don’t the aid agencies ask to see receipts? In business you would never pay for something without ensuring that you received the commodity that you paid for. You would certainly not conduct business with the offending party a second time. It seems that aid-receiving governments should, at the very least, have to account for their aid spending. Thirdly, Moyo argues that American subsidies to American cotton farmers have reduced the demand for cotton from Africa and that one of the best ways that the West could help Africa is by increasing trade. But wouldn’t Africa stand to profit more by processing their cotton in-house and selling the final products to the West instead of selling raw cotton and then having to buy final products like t-shirts back from America? Not to mention the carbon footprint of products crossing the Atlantic several times instead of once. The pressure to buy and sell local goods is mounting in the USA (on the basis of sound environmental principles), and I worry about Africa’s overdependence on the USA as a trading partner for goods that can be produced in the USA because it doesn’t seem like a sustainable market. Finally, Moyo comes across as an enthusiastic proponent of trade with China but only mentions in passing that China has slack labor and environmental prerequisites for trade. While aid funding unwittingly goes to support dictators and corruption, China might openly and willingly fund dictators. The lives of the poor will not necessarily improve because they will still be subject to low-grade living conditions and exploitation by warlords. Perhaps more money will be funneled into the economy but will the poor benefit from it? Some quotes that I particularly liked: “This reader was left wanting a lot more Moyo, and a lot less Bono.” (Foreword by Niall Ferguson p.xii) “The real question to ask is, has the insertion of democracy via foreign aid economically benefited Africa? To this question the answer is not clear. There are democratic countries in Africa that continue to struggle to post convincing growth numbers (Senegal, at just 3 per cent growth in 2006), and there are also decidedly undemocratic African countries that are seeing unprecedented economic growth (for example, Sudan). What is clear is that democracy is not the prerequisite for economic growth that aid proponents maintain. On the contrary, it is economic growth that is a prerequisite for democracy; and the one thing economic growth does not need is aid.” (p.43) “The cornerstone of development is an economically responsible and accountable government. Yet, it remains clear that, by providing funds, aid agencies (inadvertently?) prop up corrupt governments.” (p.57) “It is clear that however good their hand may seem, when trading with the West the cards are stacked against Africa, and will always be. Western political imperatives against freer trade continue to reign, and efforts to depose the current regime are proving futile. If the West wants to be moralistic about Africa’s lack of development, trade is the issue it ought to address, not aid. Of course, such are the West’s demands that even if all its trade barriers were lifted, Africa no longer has the technological equipment and know-how to compete on many products where it once had a comparative advantage. Together with environmental and labor issues, there are now serious barriers to trade.” (p.119)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I liked this book a whole lot. Dambiso Moyo is pretty much saying something that most people think is CRAZY -- she is suggesting that we STOP sending aid to Africa. All of it. Why? Because, she says, it's clearly not working. It doesn't give African governments any incentive to change things, it leads to corruption, and "regular" people never see a dime of it anyway. We need change and one way of doing that is by cutting off aid entirely. When I first heard this I thought it sounded nuts and tot I liked this book a whole lot. Dambiso Moyo is pretty much saying something that most people think is CRAZY -- she is suggesting that we STOP sending aid to Africa. All of it. Why? Because, she says, it's clearly not working. It doesn't give African governments any incentive to change things, it leads to corruption, and "regular" people never see a dime of it anyway. We need change and one way of doing that is by cutting off aid entirely. When I first heard this I thought it sounded nuts and totally irrational because we've been brainwashed to think that Africa "needs" money. The media floods us with negative images about the continent so all we ever see are the starving children, pictures of in-fighting and military coups, Somali pirates, basically all negative stuff. And even as someone "educated" (I majored in economics and finance and have a grad degree in urban planning and policy) I still kept thinking there is no way we can cut off aid because so many people are counting on it... right? Well, when I read the book I started to totally see her point. She's right about a lot of stuff. Most ordinary people hardly ever actually see our aid money. It does lead to a lot of corruption and gives leaders a reason to continue fighting for power. It doesn't actually spur development. And even with all of that wonderful aid money that the West sends to Africa we don't really seem to want or care about the well-being of Africa. And our trade policies are so protectionist that we hardly do any trade with African nations. There were a lot of interesting things that I learned from reading this book ranging from getting a better sense of which African countries have what kinds of resources and competitive advantages (or at least should in theory) to learning all about China's role in Africa's development. This part of the book was possibly the most interesting as I had absolutely no idea! It was sad but insightful to hear her thoughts on the World Bank/IMF, especially the fact that they seem to exist to create jobs for a lot of Westerners under the pretense of "helping" Africa and other developing countries. Her arguments are very convincing and I urge economists and people interested in politics or those simply interested in Africa to read this and sort of stop and think. I don't think her get-rid-of-all-aid agenda will ever actually materialize only because I don't think it'll ever be all-or-nothing BUT I do think it's worth considering what would happen if we tried this. It sort of bothered me that Moyo didn't really talk much about the continent's colonial past but at the same time I understand her pressing urgency in wanting the continent to move forward, regardless of how badly it's been bastardized by Europe. Most readers probably won't buy into everything she says but it's worth thinking about and as you read it you really do start to see that she's not interested in creating shock value at all. She's interested in bringing development and growth to places that need it badly and have been neglected for many years. And she made me realize just how Western-centric all of our policies toward Africa really are and that could be precisely why they aren't working... I hope some of her policies are enacted as Moyo has made me realize very clearly that a) the current aid model is NOT working and b) there are actually a ton of things we could try instead that might work a lot better for average Africans.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Blythe Beecroft

    First, I realize this book is now a bit outdated. I think its strength is the provocative thesis: aid to Africa is bad and there are better approaches we can be adopting. The critique of the existing aid model is powerful and definitely highlights its failures and paternalistic nature. It definitely caused me to reevaluate some longstanding ideas and reconcile them with some of my lived experiences in SSA. The history of aid section was a great overview and impressively clear and succinct. Howev First, I realize this book is now a bit outdated. I think its strength is the provocative thesis: aid to Africa is bad and there are better approaches we can be adopting. The critique of the existing aid model is powerful and definitely highlights its failures and paternalistic nature. It definitely caused me to reevaluate some longstanding ideas and reconcile them with some of my lived experiences in SSA. The history of aid section was a great overview and impressively clear and succinct. However, within her definition of aid it is not as clear where humanitarian aid or short term disaster relief falls. Also, as someone who works in the field global health, I would have appreciated more nuance and some acknowledgement that different areas of aid are more successful than others. African aid directed to the health sector has been linked to positive outcomes like increased life expectancy and lower rates of child mortality, to name a few.

  15. 5 out of 5

    catherine ♡

    A good read but a little outdated by this point.

  16. 5 out of 5

    KenyanBibliophile

    My first non-fiction of the year and it was extremely thought provoking. The gist of this book is: Aid is easy money - enabling powerful elites to embezzle public revenues. Although aid is well intentioned, it has brought about a sense that Africa is a charity case that relies on the willingness and compassion of the developed world. Moyo goes on to the core of her argument, that there ARE better alternatives. Governments can fund development through international and domestic financial markets My first non-fiction of the year and it was extremely thought provoking. The gist of this book is: Aid is easy money - enabling powerful elites to embezzle public revenues. Although aid is well intentioned, it has brought about a sense that Africa is a charity case that relies on the willingness and compassion of the developed world. Moyo goes on to the core of her argument, that there ARE better alternatives. Governments can fund development through international and domestic financial markets. To borrow internationally you need decent credit ratings. To get those ratings there needs to be transparency and prudence - which increases the overall health of a country. . My feelings about the book is mixed. Harvard and Oxford educated, one cannot take Moyo's argument lightly. However, I find the recommendations put forth a bit too simplistic. She does not document the development challenges that confront each African country's unique demographics. The ideas in here should definitely be studied, tweaked and implemented where possible.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    I possess a CFA charter which means that I have a professional knowledge of banking and credit. Forget what the critics say. Dambisa Moya is not a black woman but a professional banker who knows how lending and banking work. Dambisa Moya's thesis is simple. If Western financial institutions applied the same principles to Africa that that they have always applied in their own countries, Africa would quickly become rich and prosperous. It is unfortunate that Moyo allowed Niall Ferguson who is somet I possess a CFA charter which means that I have a professional knowledge of banking and credit. Forget what the critics say. Dambisa Moya is not a black woman but a professional banker who knows how lending and banking work. Dambisa Moya's thesis is simple. If Western financial institutions applied the same principles to Africa that that they have always applied in their own countries, Africa would quickly become rich and prosperous. It is unfortunate that Moyo allowed Niall Ferguson who is sometimes a brilliant historian and at other times a mindless advocate of right wing causes to write the introduction to this book which contributed to many people taking her for a mouthpiece for the neo-liberal movement. The basic principle of banking is that you lend more to those who repay their loans and withdraw credit from those who do not. Thus you reward good management and good morals. When credit is allocated in this manner, a country prospers. I mean could you imagine a world where Credit Card holders raised the credit limits on those who missed their payments and lowered it on those who paid regularly. Moyo uses quantitative evidence to show that those African countries which did not receive aid and instead chose to play by the rules of the financial markets have achieved the best growth rates in Africa. What happens when a country gets foreign aid? �The governments spend heavily on the military to ensure that they are not overthrown by rebels who want to pocket the aid in their place. The heavy spending on the military causes inflation that destroys the local businesses. Again this is pretty standard analysis. Moyo obviously believes that Africans can compete with anyone when allowed to play by the same rules. When different rules are forced on them by eager aid donors, their economies crumble. Bravo Moyo. Keep on writing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Logan

    A review of aid has been needed for a long time, as aid (referring specifically to loans to African governments from MFIs) arguably hasn’t brought sustainable economic growth or alleviated poverty as intended. Although I agree with some of her points, I’m very sceptical of most of her views. For example, she argues for use of bond markets for all African countries before admitting that many are a long way off from being able to access bond markets (as credit ratings and inclusion on indices are A review of aid has been needed for a long time, as aid (referring specifically to loans to African governments from MFIs) arguably hasn’t brought sustainable economic growth or alleviated poverty as intended. Although I agree with some of her points, I’m very sceptical of most of her views. For example, she argues for use of bond markets for all African countries before admitting that many are a long way off from being able to access bond markets (as credit ratings and inclusion on indices are needed). The importance of raising domestic tax revenues wasn’t addressed and yet is one of the most crucial tools to finance development. And she gives examples of countries that have raised their per capita GDP without much use of aid - Botswana, Namibia, Equatorial Guinea - without acknowledging the diamond and oil wealth that distorts this story: GDP has increased but this wealth has not necessarily benefitted the population. For example, Equatorial Guinea has the highest GDP per capita in Africa but the majority of the country lives in poverty - inequality, a very significant factor, has been overlooked in her analysis. Maybe some of the money stolen by African leaders to fund extravagant lifestyles has come from aid, but its definitely not the only source (and is arguably subject to more scrutiny than other sources). Aid is not the “cause” of such corruption either. Finally, she uses little evidence to support her arguments, and in some cases ignores existing evidence or misrepresents it. All that said, this book prompted me to think a bit more about more effective ways to finance development or use aid.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Beth Anne

    It's pretty hard to argue with the case made by Dambisa Moyo in Dead Aid. Moyo criticizes the Jeffrey Sachses and the Bonos of the world, and calls for a shift away from (and ultimately, a cessation of) the aid-based development model championed by Western policymakers and pop stars. Dead Aid is a quick read, but packs a powerful punch, demonstrating how aid has done more harm than good to Africa and Africans, and how the answer to SUSTAINABLE and substantial economic growth actually lies in mar It's pretty hard to argue with the case made by Dambisa Moyo in Dead Aid. Moyo criticizes the Jeffrey Sachses and the Bonos of the world, and calls for a shift away from (and ultimately, a cessation of) the aid-based development model championed by Western policymakers and pop stars. Dead Aid is a quick read, but packs a powerful punch, demonstrating how aid has done more harm than good to Africa and Africans, and how the answer to SUSTAINABLE and substantial economic growth actually lies in market-based alternatives (foreign direct investment, trade, accessing debt capital markets, etc.) According to Moyo, Africa needs less aid, not more-- aid does nothing but help Westerners feel good about themselves (helping maintain the illusion that they're doing the "right" thing), while their checks support corrupt leaders and discourage meaningful, long-term growth. These are not easy truths to swallow, but there's no arguing with Moyo's facts— and her assertion that successful economic development in Africa isn't a pipedream, but a very real possibility, given the right (non aid-based) approach. Dead Aid is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in issues pertaining to global poverty and economic development.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I started this book in '09 but picked it up and re-started it again last month, given the context of my hopeful Peace Corps deployment as a business volunteer in Africa. For anyone who isn't really comfortable with the idea of western governments sending billions of dollars in taxpayer money to Africa, where it often ends up in the corrupt hands of warlords, or with the idea, propagated by Bono et al. that Africa needs "saving" through lavish packages of aid, this is a book that will resonate lo I started this book in '09 but picked it up and re-started it again last month, given the context of my hopeful Peace Corps deployment as a business volunteer in Africa. For anyone who isn't really comfortable with the idea of western governments sending billions of dollars in taxpayer money to Africa, where it often ends up in the corrupt hands of warlords, or with the idea, propagated by Bono et al. that Africa needs "saving" through lavish packages of aid, this is a book that will resonate loudly with you. Moyo is brilliant, and if our governments adopted the tactics she outlined her book we'd save millions of dollars while encouraging natural, healthy economic growth in Africa. It's clear that the aid program status quo is not working, so rather than flush more money down the toilet, we need to take a step back and evaluate what can make the most impact.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Whitlaw Tanyanyiwa Mugwiji

    I loved reading the book its clear and concise. I agree with her argument that aid has fostered laziness and corruption in Africa but I am struggling to come to terms with one of her solutions. She tends to believe that capital markets are able to avoid some of these failures and challenges. I personally contend that the issue is with the conditions that come with aid and the thieves we have for leaders. With better leaders aid can be used to develop countries especially considering that the aid I loved reading the book its clear and concise. I agree with her argument that aid has fostered laziness and corruption in Africa but I am struggling to come to terms with one of her solutions. She tends to believe that capital markets are able to avoid some of these failures and challenges. I personally contend that the issue is with the conditions that come with aid and the thieves we have for leaders. With better leaders aid can be used to develop countries especially considering that the aid comes with lower interest payments than can be obtained through capital markets. I however agree with her policy prescriptions of increasing trade with China, India and other developing nations, banking the unbankable and possibly raising money using remittances as securities.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Llewellyn

    Largely meandering with no coherent argument about why aid, itself, is bad. The largest thesis I found, one of the most highlighted quotes in the kindle version, was that aid promotes laziness by those who get too comfortable with the aid, simply sitting back "and waiting for the checks." This is essentially Reagan's welfare queen ideology, and I'm not sure how something so insulting to Africans got published and widely promoted. Bono's efforts to have debt nullified are dismissed as an insult s Largely meandering with no coherent argument about why aid, itself, is bad. The largest thesis I found, one of the most highlighted quotes in the kindle version, was that aid promotes laziness by those who get too comfortable with the aid, simply sitting back "and waiting for the checks." This is essentially Reagan's welfare queen ideology, and I'm not sure how something so insulting to Africans got published and widely promoted. Bono's efforts to have debt nullified are dismissed as an insult simply because he is a musician. There's a complex argument about how aid is distributed and used to keep countries in debt at the hands of corrupt dictators, but this isn't it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ardyn

    A fascinating view of how government aid sent to Africa has not only been unsuccessful, but has actually done more harm than good to the African continent and its people. Moyo gives clear examples of how financial aid has been ineffective, along with many possible alternatives that will help further the continent's development and growth. A great read for both world leaders and citizens interested in international development. A fascinating view of how government aid sent to Africa has not only been unsuccessful, but has actually done more harm than good to the African continent and its people. Moyo gives clear examples of how financial aid has been ineffective, along with many possible alternatives that will help further the continent's development and growth. A great read for both world leaders and citizens interested in international development.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Abdulrahman

    I just got to read it and realized how misguided or somehow ill-intentioned the book.. It's crazy how Dambisa argues for China as the savior of Africa and calls for Africa borrowing, while she annihilates the World Bank for doing exactly the same thing on even more lenient terms than the banks that she argues for.. The really shocking thing was that she argues against aid ineffectiveness and all its flaws, but barely mentions accountability of African politicians as part of the equation, she compl I just got to read it and realized how misguided or somehow ill-intentioned the book.. It's crazy how Dambisa argues for China as the savior of Africa and calls for Africa borrowing, while she annihilates the World Bank for doing exactly the same thing on even more lenient terms than the banks that she argues for.. The really shocking thing was that she argues against aid ineffectiveness and all its flaws, but barely mentions accountability of African politicians as part of the equation, she completely drives by it as if it doesn't exist.. Oh yeah, with her larger work that became more evident in the years that followed this book, she actually called for ‘benevolent dictatorships’ in Africa as part of the solution.. I mean this tells of how contradicting this book is; One part of it is all ‘free market will solve all’, and the complete forgetting of accountability and rule of law as an immensely important part of the solution.. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend this book as a source of knowledge in the subject of aid reform, or even aid criticism, because it came from a banker specifically, the agenda is there.. These were my thoughts reading the book, was I alone? or did I completely miss the picture?..

  25. 5 out of 5

    Harriet

    Written by the clever and articulate Moyo, this is a fascinating insight into the history of aid and the issues that plague it. With more people in Africa dependent on aid now than in the past, what has gone so very wrong? This book is simplistic at times and does brush over some of the more complex issues however on the whole it’s a great read!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Smith

    Love. Everyone interested in community development, fundraising, and aid for developing countries should read this book. I would love to hand this book to all the major politicians and see if we could make some change out of it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Monica Rubombora

    Everyone that cares about Africa: both the giver of the aid & the recipient of the aid, should read this book. 50+ years of "giving" free stuff are enough to teach us a lesson that this thing called aid ain't working. The author Dambisa Moyo, gives a compelling argument in this book. I found myself nodding in agreement as I paged through each chapter. Everyone that cares about Africa: both the giver of the aid & the recipient of the aid, should read this book. 50+ years of "giving" free stuff are enough to teach us a lesson that this thing called aid ain't working. The author Dambisa Moyo, gives a compelling argument in this book. I found myself nodding in agreement as I paged through each chapter.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    The author makes plenty of decent arguments about how the traditional aid model feeds into corruption and bad-government complacency throughout Africa. She also offers up plenty of neoliberal alternatives to helping African nations (cutting red tape, micro-lending programs, bonds, direct business investment, etc.) But good heavens this was a dry read. A thousand-year old bone in the desert, grad school textbook dry. I ended up skimming the last dozen or so pages just to get it over with.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bee Han

    Very interesting read, and definitely recommended to friends.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Damiez Chavan

    Enjoyable read. I'm glad it wasn't longer than it was longer though. Presents a basic overview of international development aid history, how aid has affected Africa, and a mix of financial, economic, and policy alternatives to aid that have worked in different countries. Makes a compelling case. Enjoyable read. I'm glad it wasn't longer than it was longer though. Presents a basic overview of international development aid history, how aid has affected Africa, and a mix of financial, economic, and policy alternatives to aid that have worked in different countries. Makes a compelling case.

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