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Zambia - Interview

The Chinese, not Western aid, are Africa's friends says Moyo

Article published on the 2009-03-30 Latest update 2009-04-02 10:21 TU

In between recent meetings in London, that included a trip to 10 Downing Street, Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo talked about the ideas behind her book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa.

After working for Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, she is currently on the board of Lundin Petroleum.

Moyo says that growing up in Africa and then living outside the continent and coming home from time to time, "the world seemed to be moving along, growing very rapidly, and every time I went home - year in, year out - it seemed that things were getting worse".

Dambisa Moyo(Photo:

Dambisa Moyo

"For me it was sort of an ongoing recognition that things were just not working, she explains, "what was happening was that there were a lot of countries becoming independant and the architects of aid said 'well actually these countries need money to finance investment and therefore generate growth so since they don't have savings, we should actually put aid in there'.

The two goals, Moyo says, were the generation of higher growth and the reduction of poverty, leading to a trillion dollars of aid in 60 years.

"During that time you've seen a reduction in growth and an increase in poverty. So on that measure along, it doesn't work."

Her book tries to come to terms with a vicious cycle, whereby "the governments are getting aid because they worry about the number of people who are living in poverty in their countries," she says, "from that aid, there tends to spew out a lot of corruption, a lot of bureaucracy, it kills off entrepreneurship and disenfranchises the voters in these countries".

Interview: Dambisa Moyo, author of "Dead Aid"

30/03/2009 by Rosie Collyer

This situation, she argues, causes more poverty - because people don't have jobs - and then you get more aid because people feel sorry so you've got this cycle going on.

One of the chapters in her book is entitled "The Chinese are our friends" and she says that despite the bad press they've received "they have done in ten years, in terms of delivery of jobs, delivering infrastructure, roads, railways, across the continent - what the West has failed to do in 60 years through an aid model".

The book has provoked reaction from African leaders with the aides of Rwandan President Paul Kagame telling her, "we've read the book and we love it. We love the book, we love the ideas, we'd like you to come to Rwanda".

In response to her suggestion that donor countries make a phone call to African leaders, giving them five years before cutting off funding. Kagame's aides told her however "from our perspective we don't want to wait for that phone call. We want to make the phone call".

Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa is published by Penguin and Farrar, Staraus and Giroux.