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Submitted by GKM on
Dear Sallah - I am sorry, but it seems you got wrong the point made by the Rwanda's President in his FT Article on "Africa has to find its own road to prosperity". He is not opposed to foreign aid per see, he did not say that aid is a bad thing, nor does he downplay the role of political leadership and effectiveness use of aid – he actually emphasized them. The points he made are fourfold: (i) that aid is not a panacea – poor nations should focus much on improving their economies rather than on receiving aid; (ii) that aid is not a right, since richer countries do not owe anything to poor nations ; (iii) that aid, whenever it materializes, should be in support to what recipient country/government intend to achieve themselves; and nobody should pretend that they know better or care more than the people in charge or reciepient people ; (iv) that, in all cases, aid should be temporary (i.e, should not last forever), as otherwise it will end up creating “aid dependence”, which dehumanize the societies it is intended to help. The debate he is calling for is a very interesting one: When to end aid and How best to end it. I purposely underline “when” and “how best”, because it is there where you missed the point. We should remember, as yourself point out, that “aid is a part filler” of financing gap, or an “aid” to complete not to replace countries’ own efforts. Unfortunately, what is often seen, is that the world tends to give more “press” on the importance of foreign aid, but less focus on what countries themselves mobilize internally to drive their economic development. And this increasingly gives feeling that without foreign aid, Africa can not develop. Beside, the ultimate goal is that one day the “financing gap” should not continuously be there or it should be filled through other means such as borrowing, save macroeconomic stability and long-term sustainability. The ultimate debate is how quickly and best to end the cycle of aid and poverty in Africa. And it is hard to believe that the call for more aid is the answer. Last point, you state that “having little less external resources does not imply meager internal resources will be better utilized”. For one, internal resources are not meager – and this is the point I made above. Second, there is not much evidence that infusion of massive aid in a country has contributed to improvement in the management of resources – sometimes the contrary is true. So yes, African countries and the rich world should debate when and how best to end aid dependence – frankly a debate that is more overdue. Regards, GM