Better Aid, not ‘Dead Aid,’ for Africa

Dambisa Moyo's new book, "Dead Aid," is a prime example of an old idea wrapped up in new packaging. As a Harvard-educated child of Africa (Zambia), with stints at Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, Moyo makes for an appealing messenger. However, the idea on which her book is based -- that foreign assistance for Africa hasn't worked -- is hardly an original one to most aid practitioners.

But instead of offering ideas to improve aid Moyo takes the opposite approach, asserting that aid is altogether bad for Africa and should be gradually replaced with foreign investment. Moyo's solutions may on the surface seem reasonable, but her argument is simplistic, and even dangerous.

Beyond Moyo's repetitive and lifeless prose lay a stunning number of undocumented and inaccurate assertions. She repeatedly claims that $1 trillion has been spent on African development aid, but cites no source for the figure. She claims that two-thirds of U.S. AIDS assistance to Africa goes to abstinence education, although the actual number is 7 percent. She refers to a World Bank study showing that 85 percent of aid flows "were used for purposes other than that for which they were initially intended," but provides no citation. And to support her argument that foreign aid increases the risk of conflict she uses a single dubious example -- Somalia -- from a source that she references but doesn't cite.

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