Dambisa Moyo's (Serious) Challenge to the Development Business

April 21, 2009

Senior fellow Todd Moss considers the future of foreign aid in light of Dambisa Moyo’s book, Dead Aid, which argues that Western aid to Africa has brought more harm than help. The influx of aid, she contends, allows African governments to shirk their responsibilities to their citizens and foments poverty, corruption, and underdevelopment. Moss finds Moyo’s book reflective of widely felt frustration in Africa and deserves to be taken seriously. In particular, the donor community needs to pay more attention to the costs to recipients of aid, especially the long-term effects of aid dependency. Yet Moss points out that not all aid is the same and that much foreign assistance has been positive. Nevertheless, aid is not the most potent vehicle by which rich countries can help the world’s poor: better trade, smarter investment, and development-friendly migration policies are more likely to help Africa’s long-term prospects. The relevant question today is not whether aid is good or bad, but rather how aid can be made to work better for both donors and the people of Africa.

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