Dambisa Moyo’s response to Bill Gates’ allegations

By Sidique Abdullah Gondwe
After reading Dambisa Moyo’s response to Bill Gates’ allegations that she does not know much about aid dismissing her book ‘ dead aid’ as a cause for many rich institutions not to give, I thank Bill Gates for asserting what I have always thought about the book. I do not of course nod to the personal attacks.BIG ONE 1In a nutshell, Miss Moyo claims Bill Gates grossly misrepresented her book DEAD AID. As much as she, in the book, states there are certain kinds of aid that are suitable for Africa, I have always felt the theme and the ideology behind that book is a misunderstanding of what aid is and has been to Africa. The name of the book ,Dead Aid, as well intended as it is meant to be, does a poor job at pointing at gross mismanagement of African economies by half baked politicians being reason why development has been hijacked and as a result created an atmosphere for Big International companies to bend rules, take advantage of tax loopholes,or connive with corrupt leaders to gain unfair profits at the expense of natives.

I do understand that Dr Dambisa Moyo’s main objective is to challenge Africans to be economically independent and desist from the ‘hand out’ mentality that has absorbed our way of life, but to shoot down the whole aspect of AID that has cut deaths due to starvation by half in the past 20 years is a little too extreme and is an ungrateful gesture to the donors that have worked hard over the years to avoid a major catastrophe in Africa.
Why call the book DEAD AID? Even the very contents of the book do not justify the title.

Why am I saying this now, only after Bill Gates alludes to it? Because, for me , as an African and especially being a Zambian ,it would do more harm than good to criticise a book by a, once in a generation ,great economist as Miss Moyo that has put Zambia on the map. Another reason I didnt want to criticise the book was because I understood the bigger picture Dr Moyo was painting that Africa has to suck it in and depend less on aid and focus on becoming an economic power house. The final reason why I did not criticize the book was because I thought as I still know now that she knows by far more about the subject than I did or do. Yet Mr Gates’ claim, not the personal attacks, resonates with what I felt about the book.

Miss Moyo did not say aid as a whole is useless but her depiction of it was that it has done more harm than good. That depiction is an unfair targetting of the Aid system rather than the real culprit of arrested development in Africa ,corruption. Corruption and mismanagement have literally crippled African economies, but AID has placed a bandage on them. Aid, by its very nature , was never intended to bring development but relief to societies not ready to fend for themselves.

When Mr Gates brought forward the fact that appreciating or not appreciating AID depends on one’s value system, I do not think it was intended as a personal attack. When Gates travels to Mozambique and looks into the eyes of a poverty stricken desperate child whose only door to achievement in life is through donor help since the economic route that Dr Moyo talks about is yet to be realised, he will despise a book that seemingly slaps the good works he does for millions of children in the face.

Years after the book was written, even the country that seems more enthusiastic to follow Miss Moyo’s route, Rwanda, relies on Aid.

I am glad we have great economists as Dr Dambisa Moyo and I am of the opinion that the pursuit for economic independence can come hand in hand with Aid.