By Milimo Moyo, New York
Dr. Dambisa Moyo has revealed that she is scheduled to visit Zambia next week to speak to the government about aid-related issues raised in her popular new book, Dead Aid: Why Aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa.
Speaking to a packed audience at an event organized by the Carniege Council in New York City on April 2, 2009, Dr. Moyo stated that the Zambian government had invited her for in-depth discussions related to reducing aid-dependence and finding alternatives for long-term economic development. Her talk at the Carniege Council was part of her high profile U.S book tour that has drawn well-deserved attention from a wide spectrum of media, charity, government and academic institutions.
During the talk, Dr. Moyo discussed her motivations for writing the book, problems associated with the Aid model and the various ways that African countries can generate their own income thus reducing their dependence on foreign development Aid. She also decried celebrities’ tendency to speak for Africa in a manner that was couched in pity.
“Perhaps the most of awful thing is that when they speak about Africa, they do so with pity,” she said adding that America would not tolerate a foreign celebrity telling U.S President, Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary, Tim Geitner how to fix the current credit crunch.
Dr. Moyo, a Zambian-born economist formerly employed at Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, has caused a stir in the United States and around the world with her refreshing and forthright analysis of the problems stemming from development aid dependence in most African countries.
In her book, Dr. Moyo makes the case that an estimated $1 trillion worth of so-called development aid to Africa in the last five decades has dismally failed to create long-term, sustainable development on the African continent. Dead Aid examines the history of the aid-model of development and outlines specific indicators of its failure including corruption, bureaucracy, civil and political strife, a lack of entrepreneurship and inflation, among others. More importantly, Dr. Moyo’s book suggests ways in which African countries could reduce their dependence on aid and generate their own income through participation in the bond markets and trade.
While Dr. Moyo’s book has been well-received by many, some critics have adopted a contentious and somewhat misleading approach to criticizing Dead Aid. Dr. Moyo told the audience at the Carniege Council that as a result of certain misconceptions, she has found herself defending her book during her tour in America. For example, the aid advocacy group ONE, has posted what it considers a critique of Dr. Moyo’s book on its website charging that Dr. Moyo’s suggestion to stop aid in five years’ time is “reckless and seems to pay no heed to the fact that millions of Africans are on life-saving AIDS medications today paid for by aid”. However, ONE ignores the fact that Dr. Moyo categorically excludes humanitarian and charity-based aid from her pejorative view of development aid to Africa.
Despite explaining this in her book and subsequent interviews and discussions, critics have been quick to accuse Moyo of spreading an “irresponsible” message that could result in the deaths of “African babies”. One can only smile at the dramatics.
Regardless of what some critics have said, Dead Aid is set to be a bestseller both in the west and Africa. It has captivated many people’s attention so far and is fast gaining the attention of readers everywhere. In New York City, Dr. Moyo’s book promotion events have drawn enormous crowds. She has also been interviewed by an array of prominent publications and media personalities including Charlie Rose, Bill Baher and Steven Colbert.