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Moyo’s first book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa (), argues that. Apr 7, In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest. But Dambisa Moyo’s book, Dead Aid, challenges us to think again. Although we can all agree that ending poverty is an urgent necessity, there appears to be.

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T he danger is that this book will get more attention than it deserves. It has become fashionable to attack aid to Africa; an overdose of celebrity lobbying and compassion fatigue have prompted harsh critiques of what exactly aid has achieved in the past 50 years. Dead Aid offers a disastrous history of how aid was used as a tool of the cold war.

The problem is that this kind of analysis much of which is now only of historical relevance provides ammunition for those who are sceptical dwad international responsibilities and always keen to keep charity at home.

Dambisa Moyo

And here they have the perfect protagonist to advance their arguments: The author, Dambisa Moyo, worked for Goldman Sachs a fact about which the dust jacket is strangely coy after a stint at the World Bank and a doctorate at Oxford. One suspects that behind this book is a remarkable woman with an impressive career and very little time for learning how to write a good book.

The result is an erratic, breathless sweep through aid history and current policy options for Africa, sprinkled with the odd statistic. There are so many generalisations skidding over decades of history, such frequent pre-emptory glib conclusions, that it is likely to leave you dizzy with silent protest.


For example, in a breezy overview of explanations for Africa’s economic backwardness, Moyo turns to the harshness of the continent’s dmabisa and points out that “Saudi Arabia is rather hot, and of course, Switzerland is landlocked, but these dambisaa have not stopped them getting on with it”.

Yes, but moto Saudi’s vast oil reserves and tiny population, and Switzerland’s position as a banking centre at the heart of Europe, are part of the explanation? Relevant here would have been Paul Collier’s analysis of the role of geography in his recent book The Bottom Billion: Colonialism is treated similarly.

The partitioning of Africa at the Berlin conference “did not help matters”.

Just Say “No”

Um, you could say. But by the next paragraph, Moyo is already on to racism and Max Weber’s analysis of Protestantism and capitalism.

This is Moyo at her weakest; she is an economist by training and her grasp of the deas economy of Africa is lamentable. Time and again, she fails to grapple with the single biggest factor determining the poverty of the continent – how the state functions, and has failed to function.

Why has there been so much civil war and so many corrupt dictators? Why is it that Ghana and Singapore had roughly the same income levels in the s, and are now poles apart? The keys to success in many Asian countries were the role of a strong, interventionist state that nurtured industry and an elite who invested in their own country: But Moyo is not interested in the role of the state.

She believes in the private sector and free enterprise. In one of the most unconvincing sections, she argues that it is aid which causes corruption and conflict, and aid which inhibits social capital and foreign investment.


Cut the aid flows and, dambixa help from China, African economies will boom and there will be good governance.

aiv Add a dose of microfinance, some remittances from the growing African diaspora and some borrowing on the international bond market – and hey presto!

Moyo insists it really is that simple. Some of her prescriptions seem to fall foul of the credit crunch: There already exists plenty of excellent analysis on the benefits of the huge investment China is making in Africa; Moyo is telling us nothing new. She is right, however, that there are unedifying aspects of aid – in particular, the continued protectionism of both the US and EU: She argues that western liberal anxiety about suffering in Africa would be better deployed ensuring fair-trade terms on commodities such as cotton and sugar.

Dambisa Moyo – Wikipedia

What she doesn’t acknowledge is that these trade injustices are the target of vociferous campaigns by organisations such aiid Oxfam – organisations that represent the western liberalism she excoriates while relying heavily on their data. Despite being poorly argued, Dead Aid will boost Moyo’s profile. There are many who will want to promote her views, only too sambisa to cut aid budgets as pressure builds on government spending.

The danger is that she will end up on the wrong side of the argument. The battle is to press for more effective aid, not cut it altogether. Her proposal to phase out aid in five years is disastrously irresponsible: Aid and development reviews.


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