The author’s main concern and theme is about the financial aid to African continent conducted by the western countries. The author suggests that this financial aid is of no significance for the developing nations because of the many vices that are involved in the management and coordination of these funds. She mentions some of the shortcomings that emerged due to the foreign aid. There are issues like corruption, poor economic growth, unaccountability, high dependency on the foreign aid. All these have resulted to the poor performance of Africa because most African countries’ leaders rely much on foreign aid.
The kind of aid the author is addressing here is not humanitarian or emergency aid, or charitable aid, but the foreign aid that comprises billions of dollars, which is meant to boost these countries’ economy or investment.
On the other hand, the author perceives that it is the obligation of a certain country’s government to provide public goods to its citizens without using foreign aid. The government should ensure that it provides quality education, healthcare facilities, infrastructure and security to its citizens even without the foreign aid because it is obliged to carry out those activities. But due to high corruption among political leaders in office, most African countries have resolved to go for the foreign aid for investments, which, in turn, do not end up fulfilling the expected purposes. Most leaders end up squandering these funds for their own benefit and luxuries at the expense of the taxpayer.
Despite of the huge funds that most of the African countries obtain from foreign aid, the majority of African population, which is approximately 1 billion, is believed to have a minimum subsistence level comprising less than a dollar per day. This crux tends to spread among 70% of its population.
The author also suggests that most African countries have failed to develop economically due to lack of bureaucracy. This means that the governing authorities do not bother about other sectors of economy besides the private sector operations. Because of this it takes investors up to two years to receive a business license. This completely discourages the foreign investors and, to some extent, it discourages the domestic investments (Frieden 2006).
The financial aid that the Dambisa Moyo is referring to is just regarded as easy money by those in office in Africa. She suggests that if the government could rely on the private financial markets, that very government could be accountable to the financer. She also touches the issue of taxation, and states that the government relies on its voters. Aid to those governments from the western states makes most of the African country leaders squander and embezzle the public revenue with an aim of investing in profitable projects.
Although, the author argues that the aid to Africa worsens the economy of that country because of high embezzlement and misappropriation levels of public revenue. She suggests some solutions to the markets both domestically and internally. In this case, governments, which have successfully achieved the borrowing of funds from international markets, need to provide a clear credit rating profile. This assists the international financial markets to be transparent and prudent in terms of the financial aid management, which they receive from the western countries.
She also argues that the major purpose of aid is to promote the economic development and improve the state of the whole society, but not just improve the life of several individuals. On the other hand, she argues that on the individual level aid money is substantive and valid because, in this case, an individual is accountable to the funds.
Dambisa Moyo used to debate with some experts, one of them being Adrian Wood. He quotes that there should be a ceiling to aid as a proportion of the budget, which would mean accountability to its citizens. However, Dambisa Moyo argues that cutting the aid is not the proper solution. Particular measures of aid management should be introduced in order to strengthen the potential for governance. This can be done through the aid agencies that put tough restrictions on transparency, free and fair elections in order to minimize the problem of aid funds embezzlement in African countries.
Also the author argues that, in spite of the tough measures from aid agencies to African countries, she doubts that many African problems can be solved by the aid. She suggests that African problems concerning aid are based on economical revolution. Therefore, she approaches the issue by arguing that the government should turn to other sources of finance that could make them to be more accountable.
On the other hand, she argues that the African society encounters problems that are more complex than the dependence on aid. This is as a result of dividends by ethic loyalties that are widely spread across the entire Africa. This lessens the economy effectiveness, thus leading to inadequate provision of security and accountability to the public. With the absence of accountability, most of the natural resources that the country claims to posses turn out to be liabilities instead of opportunities for prosperity.
Although the author has suggested so many ways and solutions concerning the African continent and the issues of financial aid, she still feels that most African countries should turn to other alternatives to finance their development and boost economy. One of these ways is to get credit rating and issue bonds. Such intervention will gear those countries that highly depend on financial aid to develop food sovereignty, energy renewal, proper management of water and land.
The failing of development aid has lead to the puncturing complacency in the economy of most African countries which has turned out to be the largest debate of this book – forcing the rid agencies to think again about what they are doing and also provide an explanation to the taxpayers concerning what happens to their funds.
The African countries should use the above measures to ensure that there is accountability in the foreign aid management, which will boost the economy of the country, thus reducing corruption and dependency of these countries over the foreign aid. These will also encourage investments from other countries.
She also suggests that training law makers and police forces to fight against corruption will empower the local entrepreneurs rather than worsen the situation. This will lead to the development of economy because of an increase in cash flow within the country.
Internal Critical Evaluation of the Book
The book itself is quite appealing. Dambisa Moyo provides evidence of how the foreign aid financial management is mishandled by the African government. She suggests that most African countries should introduce bureaucracy. Lack of bureaucracy has made these countries fail to achieve their economic development goods. For instance, she quotes that when she was on a tour to Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, she had to pay different amounts of money to get these countries’ visas because of lack of bureaucracy among the 3 state countries. She suggests that these 3 countries should harmonize their currency and not aim at making super profits due to some economical advantages present in other countries.
She also states an example that the foreign aid, acquired by Zambia, which was intended to be invested in public goods, has been mismanaged, thus forcing this country’s graduates to earn money by selling biscuits and fruits in the streets, and cleaning basins. This all is due to the embezzlement of the funds that were meant to improve the economy of the country, mainly its three pillars - healthcare, education and welfare. The foreign aid obtained by the country, which comprised almost 6 billion in the last year, did not do anything in relation to the above.
The author also states that as the foreign aid, which was meant for certain projects, has been squandered, the whole endeavor failed to boost the education sector. The poor governance of the political leaders deprived the majority of Zambian citizens of access to education, thus leaving them doomed (Naim, Moises 2000).
Dambisa Moyo is also frustrated by the way most African countries manage the foreign aid. She quotes the case of Zimbabwe country, which is the most corrupt country with low level of investment and economic development. This follows that most recently the president of Zimbabwe attended a summit to request for foreign aid, despite of the country’s large debt. This clearly indicates that foreign aid has done little to the economic development of the African countries. Like now, Zimbabwe runs on a deficit budget, but still it goes for aid to finance its economic development activities. The real state of affairs suggests that the funds end up into the corrupt leader’s hands, who uses this money to purchase personal luxuries and taking his family out of the country for tours. She also quotes an example of Mauritius where almost 70% of its population lives for less than a dollar a day.
Despite of the above, Dambisa Moyo applauses the Rwanda’s government for constantly trying to get out of large debts caused by the foreign aid, as it fears the debts can outdo the government’s investment. She supports Kagame’s governance because of his efforts to nullify the rate of foreign aid. He states that Rwandan’s people need not work and pay taxes for the foreign aid, so he tries to minimize the debts of Rwanda. Dambisa also congratulates Kagame for what he has done to the Rwanda government like improving equality in gender, whereby she quotes that women constitute ¼ of the public service workers and they are present in the parliament of Rwanda. This is a clear indication that the foreign aid to Rwanda has done great job to Rwanda’s people.
The strength of the book is revealed when the author argues that foreign aid worsens the countries’ economic development by not meeting the objectives of economic pillars. These include health, quality education and eradication of poverty. The funds that were meant to meet this objective have been squandered by poor governance, thus making the country unable to develop its economy.
On the other hand, the book possesses some weaknesses by suggesting that even though there is failure by concerned parties to manage the foreign aid funds, they should still be granted. The countries that are members to foreign aid programs should develop some strategic ways like introduction of credit rating and evaluation of their investment as a measure to reduce misuse of these funds, which are meant to improve the country’s economic development.
The Contribution of the Book
Dambisa Moyo’s work has contributed tremendously towards the investments conducted by the developed countries, which helped Africa cope with the challenges these countries have faced, like war in Somalia, and due to her much has been done to reduce social crimes in Africa. Now the major problem with these countries is poor management of foreign aid funds. This can be witnessed by the following evidences.
Although Dambisa Moyo has faced a lot of criticism from other scholars over her work, she tries to give African countries a solution to diverse cruxes and how to reduce their problems internally without the approach of the foreign aid. (Frankel 2000)
Dambisa Moyo has largely contributed to the global markets by arguing most African countries to invest more in the trade markets so that they can get returns on their bonds and securities as one way of getting revenue to finance their economic activities. Although most individuals criticize this concept, the author still maintains that this is the best to deal with corruption in Africa.
Also the author suggests that African countries should engage in selling bonds to earn interest that will assist them obtain returns, which further will be utilized to finance investments that in turn will increase the cash flow of the government and maintain the foreign trade balance. This will reduce the dependency of the government on the foreign aid, thus reducing the rate of debts. For instant, she refers to Kenya, which issued almost 50% of its bonds and shares to raise funds for developing economy.
Also investment has been touched by the author as a way of getting the countries out of debts, caused by foreign aid. Dambisa Moyo suggests that these countries will invest in their banking systems and other financial institutions as one way of getting funds that will enable them to increase economic development. Such actions would make the countries more prosperous, thus lessening the foreign aid dependency.