What if Aid given to African Countries is used for its intended purpose.

Bill Gates or Dambisa Moyo = Rwanda

by John B. Oyaro

Over a decade ago, Zambian Global author and economist Dambisa Moyo rattled aid proponents like Bill Gates and Bono in her damning book Dead Aid. In the book, she argues that predominantly ordinary citizens in Sub-Saharan Africa were not benefiting from aid. Preferably, they were used as props to help an elite group of politicians and non-governmental organizations, deeply rooted in corruption to swindle money.

Zambian Global Author and Economist, Dambisa Moyo

According to Moyo, aid given to the African States makes good leaders bad and bad leaders worse. She further reinstated that the aid-dependent States continued to have an increase in the levels of poverty rather than meaningful economic growth. However, for multi-billion donor Bill Gates, Moyo’s clarion call was a misconceived and an unfair view removed from the significant and substantial progress that aid had propagated in Africa;

Over the last 20 years, the number of children who die in Africa has been cut in half … its been largely due to aid programs in Africa. That book actually did damning generosity of rich world countries. If you look at what aid has been able to do, you will never accuse it of dependency.

For the most part, Moyo is right; for instance, foreign aid handled under President Mugabe’s regime (Zimbabwe) was riddled with inept corruption to the point that humanitarian assistance was delivered entirely thorough the United Nation agencies and NGOs. However, Gate’s account is also valid - there is a necessity of humanitarian aid in countries with clueless governments, dilapidated infrastructure, and inadequate healthcare systems. The need might not be necessarily triggered by the desire to have monumental economic growth but rather survival.

Bill Gates, Founder, and CEO of the world’s wealthiest Charitable Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

I don’t want to delve into this stalemate but rather through both Moyo’s and Gates’s perspective, try to picture what would happen if aid is used for its intended purpose and to the benefit of the ordinary Kenyan and Nigerian whose hope is to have a transformed African continent.


I’d argue that both Moyo and Gates would agree that Rwanda has been an exception to the rule that has defined Sub-Saharan foreign Aid.

By 2012, Rwanda was the 5th most aid-dependent country globally; however, it was among the fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2010. Ordinary Rwandans were benefiting from aid through Ordinary Development Assistance, which resulted in a significant decline of those living in poverty — primarily owed to strong leadership and instituted mechanisms to ensure accountability.

Contrary to Moyo’s viewpoint, aid in Rwanda did not result in dependency but instead enabled the government to rise out of potentially consistent reliance on aid. The proportion of Government budget to development aid declining from 86 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2011.

Thus it is a truism to state that whatever development agenda aid propagates, it has to have country ownership and strong leadership built on integrity and accountability like that portrayed in Rwanda, to ensure the billions of dollars given to aid enables the realization of development outcomes and results.

My Take.

The viewpoint mentioned above has often made me optimistic yet disgruntled when discussing the issue of aid with some of my German freinds — I always have to weigh Moyo’s and Gates’s account — on the one hand, I understand the necessity of aid, especially during unforeseeable calamities. On the other hand, I am disgruntled with the immense number of African leaders’ greed and corruption, hell-bent at swindling money meant for projects and development.

One of those friends is Simon. We were excited to meet and discuss the aid factor after he got on a new job with one of the biggest German aid donor companies in Africa and South America. In one of our discussions, he opted to share his organizations’ ex-post public reports on Kenya done in 2008. The report showed the impact, effectiveness, and sustainability of aid money given to the government to ensure food security as a reaction to acute drought and food price crisis in 2008 and 2009.

Critical of the report at first, I would later discover that even though the implementing agency had failed short of the desired outcome, at least the 348 multi-million Euro project was satisfactory. However, the project could not be ranked as sustainable, which would beg the question; Would Kenya still need another 348 Million Euros in 2051 from the donor to meet the economic and social destabilization of another acute drought crisis?

Like many other aid projects in Kenya and across Africa, the project targeted families in poor urban areas and the vulnerable population in arid and semi-arid regions. So, whether one agrees with Moyo or hates Gates’s gut, they ought to agree that the biggest beneficiaries of aid ought to be (this group)- And that no amount of aid can transform a country with poor leadership, corruption, and a deep-rooted sense of dependency.



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