Aid to Africa

African leaders call for the DIY approach

Brady Yauch
June 6, 2009

As the economic crisis continues to work its way across the globe, the plight of African countries has been used as a reason for increasing foreign aid to the developing world. But a new tone has taken root amongst lawmakers in Africa, with a number of African leaders saying it’s time for leaders across the continent to find ways to fix problems without relying so heavily on foreign aid.

At a recent conference in Cairo, Egypt’s finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali said African leaders need to understand that the developed countries are concerned primarily with solving their own problems.

“We are on our own,” he said. “Unless we do it, nobody is going to do it for us. And I am a firm believer in the capacities of this continent to be able pull itself up (with) its own bootstraps.”

Boutros-Ghali’s sentiment was echoed by Momodu Karbo, Sierre Leone’s deputy finance minister. He told Reuters that, while foreign aid will be important in helping to get his country back on its feet, it will not be the primary focus of his government.

“Increasingly we have to depend on ourselves for support because one thing that is lacking with aid is predictability,” he told Reuters [PDF] .

The United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa encouraged the delegates at the conference to not depend heavily on foreign aid as the only solution to deal with the current economic crisis.

“We are getting support and understanding from the international community but this is a global crisis and therefore it calls for global action,” he said. “But within that they want to emphasize the need for Africa to take the responsibility to fix Africa.”

Many of the comments from leaders reflect the opinion of Dambisa Moyo in her recent book Dead Aid. Moyo calls for an end to foreign aid to African countries, and instead believes governments across the continent should focus more on developing mature bond markets and stimulating economic growth from within.

“The fundamental problem with the aid model is there are no jobs being created for Africans. It is a band-aid solution,” she said in a recent interview with the National Post. Instead African countries need to create “a mixture of trade, foreign direct investment, capital markets, the bond market, remittance and microfinance”

Further reading:

African states seek own solutions in world crisis
[PDFver here]

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