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Submitted by Daniel Amponsah on
I have read President Kagame's interesting opinion piece in the FT. It is thoughtful indeed. That said, I would like to make a few points. Instead of seeing Dambisa's "Dead Aid" as controversial, I would rather it's considered a contribution to the debate on effectiveness of foreign aid. Care, therefore, needs to be taken to not regard it as an authoritative reading of the "real" state of development assistance. Dead Aid is a description (critique at best) of an aspect of the aid culture rather than an "accurate evaluation," as President Kagame argues. Whilst Dambisa raises critical points, I am struggling to find out what's new. In my opinion, Dambisa short-circuits Africa's development agenda/process by concentrating her "blue-print" on development financing only, the path of least resistance. This is not to say we should not pay attention to the issues. It is also worth paying attention to the issues Dambisa touches on regarding political leadership on the continent. She cites a database (Polity IV) to stress a point that Africa is still home to at least 11 fully autocratic regimes. Interestingly, Rwanda features prominently on this list. I do not want to believe that President Kagame tacitly agrees with this characterization. But the broader point is leadership matters. Certainly, it will require democratically elected leadership working with the populace to take initiative as well create opportunities for Africa to find its road to prosperity. In the same way, leadership matters on framing and advancing the discussion on when and how best to end aid. If ending aid is Africa's surest way to lift itself out the woods, I am all for it. What steps should Africa take to ensure that it will be able to pull itself by the bootstrap? How does it get there? Who starts this conversation and where? May be cutting or eliminating aid dependency could be a NEPAD target to reach at specified time. The problem, however, is that NEPAD itself depends on the benevolence of outside support to survive. President Kagame could be more serious making it his agenda to get this discussion going practically, substantively not politically. You can never have your cake and eat it!