Dead Aid, By Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo argues in this book that African aid is not working. Its epigraph is a heart-rending message that was found on the bodies of Guinean teenage stowaways who attempted to reach Europe in the landing gear of an airliner. To "the Excellencies and officials of Europe", it pleads: "We ask you to help us to study so we can be like you."

But what is the best way to help? In his foreword, Niall Ferguson argues that the African discussion has been colonised, as was the African continent, with public debate led by white, non-African men, from the Earth Institute's Jeffrey Sachs to Bono.

Moyo was born and educated in Zambia until her university closed during a coup, whereupon she won a scholarship to the US. She here offers an "African view of Africa's economic problems". She argues that the receipt of concessional loans is a curse encouraging corruption and conflict, and that what poor countries need is not multi-party democracy but "a decisive benevolent dictator". A controversial message, all right, delivered in eloquent, erudite prose.

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