Friday, 8 June 2007

Repudiate African aid, and promote African self-help

Guilt-induced blatherings about Africa are emerging from the G8 conference. But the west has nothing to feel guilty about* in regard to Africa: it's not the west who makes Africa poor, it's Africans. Africa is not poor because we made it so, says Elan Journo at the Ayn Rand Institute:
Africa is poor because it is rife with bloody tribalism and superstition--ideas that in the Dark Ages kept the Western world as poor, if not poorer, than today's Africa. If aid advocates were genuinely concerned with helping Africans, they would campaign for political and economic freedom; for individualism, reason and capitalism; for the ideas necessary to achieve prosperity.
That this is emphatically not what "aid advocates" are out in the street yelling for suggests that helping Africans is not the chief motivation behind their yelling. [Hat tip Liberty Scott].

UPDATE: A colleague on the O-Blogger list sent me a link to an interview with James Shikwati, who I've mentioned here before. "For God's sake, please stop the aid," says Shikwati to G8 leaders.

I'd suggest that if there were more James Shikwatis in Africa, then Africa would be a much more self-reliant place, and undoubtedly a mihc wealthier and a much happier place. As my colleague says, they "might actually be able to eradicate poverty by creating more wealth instead of promoting legalized theft."
- - - - -

* Correction: the west does have one thing about which it should feel guilty, and that is western Europe's and the US's closed borders to African trade. The irony here however is that those yelling loudest for a guilt-trip to help Africa are also the loudest in their opposition to free trade.

Go figure.


  1. Abolish the European Common Agricultural Policy.

    The singlest biggest help Europe can give to Africa.

    But it's not really serious about actually helping Africa. Just being seen to help it.

    I think Theo Mbeki's brother is saying the same things as James Shikwati.

    As is Noel Pearson about Aboriginal aid , but that's another story.

  2. "and that is western Europe's and the US's closed borders to African trade."

    Even here, there's room to be realistic, or cautious if you will.
    Whats the point of buying from Africa if the quality isn't there, again, that's just low quality charity.
    Or buying stuff from the local warlord desperately needed by his people.

    Someone once worked out that over a trillion dollars has been spent on African aid.. to little effect. We might be better to send in some troops, wipe out the war lords and dictators, take the place over and run it the way the colonisers did. Then we could get some genetically modified rice going, stop a million people per year from going blind and feed some mouths.

    Africa is much worse now than when the Brits and others were running the place. Decolonisation and lack of will is the first problem, untagged aid is way up there and so is the lack of DDT.

    Priorities please.


  3. If you at least allow the poor bastards to offer what they have to the West then consumers can see and judge what's what and then the feedback will inspire African farmers to strive to meet that standard.

  4. Dark Continent by Paul Theroux is worth a read on this matter.
    The travel writer revisits sites familiar from teaching there 20 years earlier.
    He's a polyglot who has lived there and knows many locals, which is more than can be said for entertainment industry luvvies.
    Apart from the politics he commicates the land very well.
    In other African news, I wonder if the Nandor and the Rastafarians feel comprimised that the beloved Halie Selassae was installed and protected by the British military.

    ... so how do the Nandor and Co reconile their anti-Iraq position with Halie Selasse's rise to power?

  5. The book by Theroux is Dark Star Safari.

  6. Common sense from James Shikwati, indeed.

    More sense in one short article than a lifetime of plush G8 handwringing sessions.

  7. And drop the debt at the same time given that most aid has been going to pay that back. I'm glad the CAP was mentioned because we should face the fact that we don't have free trade, we have trade controlled by the US if it suits them.

    Free trade would be great but we still live in a global economy with heavy protectionism and subsidies all over the place (US farmers, Japanese farmers etc).

    Helping to establish proper institutions and not deal with corrupt tyrants would be a good start but them minerals and fossil fuels are too important to give up on that.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.