Why Africa Should Forget Aid

By Dr. Robert Darko Osei

In this presentation, Dr. Robert Osei contrasted the theory of Foreign Aid – or ‘’Official Development Assistance’’ as international bureaucrats like to call it – with its effects in practice.

He went over the latest international agreements, such as those reached in 2005 at Gleneagles, to gauge whether there is anything in them that should offer those of us in Africa any hope that this time around government-to-government aid will do any good for Africa’s less than spectacular economic growth.

Dr. Osei reminded participants that of the extra $50 billion dollars pledged at Gleneagles, a whopping $25 billion was earmarked for Africa . Putting aside arguments about how much of this would actually reach African governments rather than go to the myriads of consultants who always seem to suddenly multiply in number at moments of aid hikes, he instead focused on what happens to those quantities of Aid that actually do reach African countries. Do these – ranging from physical cash to technical assistance – really ever produce any clear and measurable results for African economic and political systems, and thus in turn for African citizenry – both low and high?

How does the empirical evidence measure with the longstanding policy position of African governments that Aid is a key plank of national developmental strategy? Related questions follow with regard to whether democracy – at least the populist variety – contributes to Aid dependency by constraining governments on the continent – even the far-seeing ones- from taking bold but painful decisions to limit reliance of foreign largesse and expand domestic efforts to accumulate resources by efficient taxation, deregulation and the elimination of incentives for graft and corruption.

Dr Osei’s lecture at the end of the brief course, convinced students and managed to navigate the following questions:

· What is the evidence on the correlation between Africa ’s development and foreign aid?

· What are some of the consequences of Africa ’s over-dependence on foreign aid?

·Can Africa wean itself of aid dependency?

·Will Africa be ‘plunged into darkness’ if it were to reduce its dependence on foreign aid?

While there are no clear-cut answers to any of these questions, a strong theme that resonated through the discussions concerned the increasing signals that foreign aid may be doing more harm than good to Africa . A theme reinforced by ample evidence that Aid is being used by developed countries, among others, to bribe Africans into accepting the injustice posed by the former’s interference in world markets. And thus the notion suggests itself that a critical component required to turn the fortunes of Africa for the better, may be a considerable reduction in foreign aid dependence.

Please see Dr. Osei’s power point presentation here. Express permission for citing any of Dr. Osei’S works should be sought from Franklin Cudjoe franklin@imanighana.org Editor, African Liberty & Executive Director, IMANI.