Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Aid's a Growth Business but Africans Need Help

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Aid's a Growth Business but Africans Need Help

Article excerpt

THE lady from Christian Aid came round with her collecting box, but drew a blank with me. I am starting a rival charity, which will be called: Save Africa

Eat a Goat. Aid is the Dark Continent's growth business, and I want to be in on it.

I shall join a cast of thousands at the World Bank, relieved to see the back of their ex-president, Paul Wolfowitz, with his picky preference for lending money to the uncorrupt.Careers have been made in international bureaucracies like theirs.

Charities have grown to be non-governmental organisations. Promoters have recognised that aid is now abranch of showbiz.

They will all be kept busy, for Africa has earned its place in Economic Disasters of the Twentieth Century*.

Derek Aldcroft and Michael Oliver, the editors, rank this one with the Great Depression and the two world wars. Growth, which carried the rest of the world forward, has passed much of Africa by. Zambia may be rich in copper but Zambians are poorer than they were 40 years ago.

For the African disaster, Aldcroft Honda chief has a string of partial explanations.

Farming, the continent's nearest approach to a staple industry, was unproductive. The demographics were hostile. Education missed its mark. Quite so, but other countries in other continents

most of all in Asia

overcame their handicaps and moved ahead. Only Africa missed out.

Aiders prefer to argue that the developed West brought Africa's troubles on by exploitation and oppression, and then by lending money which has long ago been lost. The Yvette should World Bank, eager to promote development, backed many hopeless projects. Now the aiders insist that the West should atone by pouring money into Africa. So indeed it has, but without starting the motor of growth.

It was always likely to stall if the money found its way into the wrong pockets. …

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