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Aid is not helping Africa

Thanks for the comments on the Daily Mail article.  I do not mean to offend, of course Aid in some forms can be a great help, however (promise I won't go on doing this), the following letter to the Times in UK, sent by someone who describes himself as 'a one-time adviser to the Government on aid to Africa' - makes the point well.  There is a difference between government aid and what he calls successful micro-projects - but I think that accountability across the board is still lacking, whether it be money raised from Live Aid or elsewhere.

Obviously the letter is very much written from a UK perspective where public spending cuts are really starting to bite.  Anyway, here it is.

Aid is not helping Africa

As a one-time adviser to the Government on aid to Africa, I much regret to say that the vast amounts of aid being given to corrupt and incompetent African governments in the form of unauditable annual grants is now doing more harm than good.

We are all familiar with the damage that centrally determined targets have done to our health services and police, yet we insist on meeting an aid target of 0.7% of GNP set decades ago when there were many countries needing aid and very few donors.  Africa is now flooded with unspent aid.  I know concientious NGO filed staff who have resigned in disgust at the pressure put on them to spend aid regardless of its use.  I have Department for International Development staff telling me that no one questions how well their aid is being used.  I came across this in the World Bank years ago when targets were set that staff had to meet if they wanted a promotion.

There is a confusion in many people's minds about aid as they see it helping successful micro projects, but they do not differentiate between these and the 330 million pound Government budget aid allocated this year to Ethiopia or the 70 million pounds allocated to Uganda.  Most of this direct Government aid never gets to the poor but just supposts military regimes and Swiss bank accounts.  For us to pour more aid into Africa when we are cutting back social services is unbelievable.

Gordon Bridger, Guildford.

Meanwhile, I read in 'The Week' that Bob Geldof, has now reincarnated himself as a private equity guru, swapping aid for investment in Africa.


From The Week/UK Financial Times:

'Africa boasts 10% of global oil reserves and a treasure trove of base and precious metals.  But the story is no longer just about resources - with consumer spending rising at more than twice the rate of developed countries, a World Bank report suggests the continent is poised for economic take-off, much as China was 30 years ago.'

Let's hope so..

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