A national bestseller, Dead Aid unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined—and millions continue to suffer. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Dambisa Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries.
Much debated in the United States and the United Kingdom on publication, Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.
Dambisa Moyo worked at Goldman Sachs for eight years. Previously she worked for the World Bank as a consultant. Moyo completed a Ph.D. in economics at Oxford University and holds a master’s from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia.
In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.
In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchinglyconfronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined—and millions continue to suffer. Provocatively drawing a sharp contrast between African countries that have rejected the aid route and prospered and others that have become aid-dependent and seen poverty increase, Moyo illuminates the way in which overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries that guarantees economic growth and a significant decline in poverty—without reliance on foreign aid or aid-related assistance.
Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.
“An incendiary new book . . . Here is a refreshing voice . . . What makes Dead Aid so powerful is that it’s a double-barrelled shotgun of a book. With the first barrel, Moyo demolishes all the most cherished myths about aid being a good thing. But with the second, crucially, she goes on to explain what the West could be doing instead.”—Christopher Hart, The Daily Mail
"It is one of the great conundrums of the modern age: More than 300 million people living across the continent of Africa are still mired in poverty after decades of effort—by the World Bank, foreign governments and charitable organizations—to lift them out if it. While a few African countries have achieved notable rates of economic growth in recent years, per-capita income in Africa as a whole has inched up only slightly since 1960. In that year, the region's gross domestic product was about equal to that of East Asia. By 2005, East Asia's GDP was five times higher. The total aid package to Africa, over the past 50 years, exceeds $1 trillion. There is far too little to show for it. Dambisa Moyo, a native of Zambia and a former World Bank consultant, believes that it is time to end the charade—to stop proceeding as if foreign aid does the good that it is supposed to do. The problem, she says in Dead Aid, is not that foreign money is poorly spent (though much of it is) or that development programs are badly managed (though many of them are). No, the problem is more fundamental: Aid, she writes, is 'no longer part of the potential solution, it's part of the problem—in fact, aid is the problem.' In a tightly argued brief, Ms. Moyo spells out how attempts to help Africa actually hurt it. The aid money pouring into Africa, she says, underwrites brutal and corrupt regimes; it stifles investment; and it leads to higher rates of poverty—all of which, in turn, creates a demand for yet more aid. Africa, Ms. Moyo notes, seems hopelessly trapped in this spiral, and she wants to see it break free. Over the past 30 years, she says, the most aid-dependent countries in Africa have experienced economic contraction averaging 0.2% a year . . . Inevitably, Dead Aid will offend the pieties of the World Bank and the foreign-aid sectors of the U.S. government. But Ms. Moyo is not alone in asking tough questions about good intentions gone awry. Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, has said of the $300 billion in aid given to Africa since the 1970s that 'there is little to show for it in terms of economic growth and human development.' Senegal's president, Abdoulaye Wade, has expressed similar sentiments . . . She closes her book with a fascinating question: What would happen if African countries were told that in five years all financial aid would end? She doesn't try to answer the question in any detail, other than to dismiss the notion that living conditions in Africa would grow worse. She points to Botswana and South Africa as examples of countries that have prospered precisely because they haven't allowed themselves to become heavily dependent on aid. Some of us remember Live Aid, the music festival held in 1985 to provide relief to Ethiopia. It was a noble effort and perhaps did some good, but Dead Aid reminds us that noble efforts are not enough—that 'help' can often do harm."—Matthew Rees, The Wall Street Journal
"Ten years ago, it would have been hard to find anyone to question the wisdom and morality of the rich world giving billions of dollars in help to the poor world. A generation reared on Live Aid held these truths to be self-evident. Now, the intellectual trend is all the other way. A stream of economists, politicians and even disillusioned do-gooders have penned powerful critiques of every aspect of aid and the aid industry; men like Paul Collier, William Easterly and Robert Calderisi. Even the high priests of aid, pop stars such as Bono and Bob Geldolf, now preach a much more nuanced and complex gospel than they did in the 1980s. Yet the intellectual arguments about aid are still conducted largely within a small circle of Western white men. So it is good to welcome a new voice to the debate, and a black African woman too, Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian economist at Goldman Sachs. It is remarkable that so few voices have been raised in Africa, supposedly the main beneficiary of the world’s largesse, about how the aid money should be spent, or even whether it should be received at all . . . Ms. Moyo is right to argue that the rich world—and Africa—should now focus o