The Belmont Club has an interesting post linking to an interview with a Kenyan economist. They talk about aid to Africa from western countries. It’s very thought provoking, and along the lines I’ve been thinking for quite some time. To sum up, James Shikwati insists that the massive aid that has been flowing into Africa for decades now has done enormous harm to many countries there, creating a addiction that is harmful for all sides of the problem. With all the talk of aid to Africa that’s been in the news and media lately (Bono, American Idol, Coldplay, etc.), this is a timely reminder that things aren’t always what they seem.
This is one of those cases where I see that what we’ve been doing and are doing isn’t working and flat out isn’t going to work. I don’t know the answer, though. I just cutting them off completely really the right answer? Perhaps it really is the answer. It certainly flies in the face of both the west’s liberal and Christian traditions, but like kicking your son out of the house when they get to a certain age, sometimes you need to practice tough love. Like I said, what we’re doing isn’t helping — this much is obvious. The west has mostly lost it’s taste for aggressive nation building, a la colonialism, and yet it doesn’t want to let go of it’s perceived role as the world’s savior. What to do?
SPIEGEL: Would Africa actually be able to solve these problems on its own?
Shikwati: Of course. Hunger should not be a problem in most of the countries south of the Sahara. In addition, there are vast natural resources: oil, gold, diamonds. Africa is always only portrayed as a continent of suffering, but most figures are vastly exaggerated. In the industrial nations, there’s a sense that Africa would go under without development aid. But believe me, Africa existed before you Europeans came along. And we didn’t do all that poorly either.