Aid to African Nations: Good or Bad?

Published on 14th April 2009

Since 1980 rich nations have pumped $450 billion dollars into Sub-Saharan African nations. Now, what I would like to ask is - “What do we have to show for it?” 

Sadly, the answer would be, “nothing.” 

Despite its intent, aid has undermined development in Africa, intensified corruption and given birth to countless dictators. 

Development aid has not, historically, lifted African nations out of poverty and destitution. Is it likely to do so in the future? The odds are stacked against it. The average growth in per capita growth domestic product (GDP) in Sub-Saharan Africa from 1980 to 2004 was 0.33 percent (less than 1 %!). 

Many of the African nations are economically worse off than they were at the end of the colonial era in the 1960s. 

Bottom Line:  African countries are withering precisely because of aid. Aid has been our biggest obstacle to development. 

Disadvantages of Aid 


When a country can continuously count on others to bail it out, it loses its need to reform internally. Aid, therefore, becomes the reason to kill all motivation to improve from within. Public officials lack any incentive to institute any macro-economic  reforms when the amount of money available for the government to spend doesn’t depend on the performance of the economy. 


Aid from wealthy countries hardly reaches the intended beneficiaries. Instead, aid has widened the insatiable appetite of corrupt leaders, often becoming the way to get-rich-quick for corrupt strong-men. Transparency International, an organization that fights corruption on a global scale, has consistently ranked Sub-Saharan African countries among the governments with the highest levels of corruption worldwide. 


Government-to-government aid often consists of surplus commodities and money that is earmarked to purchase goods from the donor country. This is particularly true of the United States. Due to price supports and production subsidies, U.S. farmers produce much more than Americans can consume. The government ends up with the surplus and donates it to poor countries. And guess what? This food aid has caused markets for locally grown farm products to collapse. 

Now tell me, why on earth do we need AID ???  

Ethiopia (and Africa in general) are like American consumers, always in debt, always worried about filling the immediate need and less worried about the long term risks. 

What is happening in Africa today is the biggest crime and robbery since slavery and colonialism. We are meant to fail, by design. Choice depends on the freedom to choose, and if you are shackled with debt, then you don’t have the freedom to choose. People in debt become hopeless, and hopeless people hardly do something about their problem.

What we need is a fair trade, and not aid that is designed to keep us subordinate. 

By Dr. Ethiopia

Dr Ethiopia [email protected]  runs the Abesha Bunna Bet blog. Source: Abesha Bunna Bet 

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