Pete Willows Cairo, Egypt +20 010-795-8537 Revised: July 7, 2009. Word count: about 650.

Dambisa Moyo. DEAD AID: why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2009. Pp. 188. $24.00. ISBN-13: 978-0-374-13956-8.

³The notion that aid can alleviate systemic poverty, and has done so, is a myth,´ Dambisa Moyo writes in her polemic. Pop stars like Bono and Bob Geldof may attract millions of donors and dollars while singing for aid and debt relief, but Africa continues to lag behind in every aspect. Moyo explains that the Marshall Plan, which re-financed a badly damaged European infrastructure after World War Two, is the wrong model for assisting Africa, which lacks infrastructure altogether. Emergency humanitarian aid notwithstanding, systemic aid is encouraging corruption, bureaucracy and dysfunction. Expansive loans engender expansive debt. In the fifty years since Africa began to seek independence from colonialism, these new governments have become dependent on their former colonial overseers for survival. Civil wars, famines, tribal disputes, coups des états and HIV: Africa¶s problems are complicated, and it takes a pragmatic economist like Moyo to sort through them. We should look to the Chinese in Africa, Moyo writes, whom are responsible for the pristine macadamized roads from Cairo to Capetown, refurbished railways in Nigeria, and nearly a thousand miles of petroleum pipeline in the Sudan. This approach to African aid, foreign direct investment, is a tangible solution. Trade, micro-finance and attention to

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Africa¶s growing capital markets are also important systems over-looked by traditional Western foreign aid. Africa has the essentials it needs to develop: cheap labour, timber, mineral deposits, oil and agriculture. What Africa needs, Moyo says, are the means in which to market, finance and distribute what it has. And too, leadership²more than one trillion US dollars in cash infusions to African governments in the last half-century have only sustained the kleptocracies.


Pete Willows is a Toronto-born freelance writer who has lived and worked in Egypt, The United States, New Zealand, the Sudan and Canada.

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