The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Friday, July 08, 2005

Stop Helping Us 

VodkaPundit points to this interview in Der Spiegel as required reading... and I have to agree. It is with an African economist who is not only asking, he's practically begging Western governments to stop giving aid to Africa... and for good reason:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa...

Shikwati: ... for God's sake, please just stop.

SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

SPIEGEL: Even in a country like Kenya, people are starving to death each year. Someone has got to help them.

Shikwati: But it has to be the Kenyans themselves who help these people. When there's a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program -- which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It's only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it's not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa ...

SPIEGEL: ... corn that predominantly comes from highly-subsidized European and American farmers ...

Shikwati: ... and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unscrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN's World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It's a simple but fatal cycle.

Read the entire interview, and then tell Bono to read it too. Then read this LA Times column (H/T to Instapundit). It's not quite as on the ball, as it mostly blames corrupt governments for the ineffectiveness of aid in Africa, but it makes some good points too.

Unfortunately, the leaders at the G8 Summit didn't listen, and will continue to pour more money into Africa, guaranteeing that the continent will remain destitute.

The way to help Africa out of poverty is very simple. First we need to get the environmental whackos to back off their crazy horse, and allow DDT to be used there to kill mosquitoes and stop Malaria, which is a far worse problem than AIDS in Africa. Then we need to stop flooding their markets with cheap food and clothes so that local farmers and businessmen can stand a chance in their own countries. Finally, we need to open up true free trade their so that they can even export their goods to countries that would buy them. It worked for Asia didn't it? Money isn't the answer... capitalism is.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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