Africa and Aid: the Effects of the Recession

Saturday 31 October, 5.15pm until 6.30pm, Lecture Theatre 1

The global economic crisis is hitting the poorest parts of the developing world hard. The relatively high growth Africa has enjoyed in recent years is slowing as demand for the continent’s resources wanes, and foreign direct investment barely trickles in. There is a danger that the downturn will kill off the possibility of economic growth and leave Africa dependent on aid, just as NGOs and aid agencies fear donors will put aid on the back burner as the recession hits their own bank balances. But while some worry that the era of aid for international development is over, critics argue that it doesn’t help anyway, and that in order to spur development, Africans should just say no to aid and build up their own economies. Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, for example, argues that Western aid simply perpetuates poverty in Africa, and calls instead for trade with China, accessing capital markets, and microfinance.

Critics say aid breeds corruption, fosters dependency and stifles growth. Meanwhile some aid agencies reject the idea that economic growth is the only means to develop. Others make aid conditional on ‘good governance’. With aid budgets under threat, with aid agencies be still more beholden to Western government agendas? Should we call for more aid, or kiss it goodbye and look to investment instead, even in the context of global recession? Should we be less concerned about the form the cash takes and where it’s from as long as it’s there? What kind of external assistance might help or hinder development?

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Benny Dembitzer
international development consultant; co-director, Ethical Events; author, The Attack on World Poverty

Ceri Dingle
director, WORLDwrite & WORLDbytes

Gibril Faal
chairman, African Foundation for Development; founder, RemitAid

Viv Regan
managing editor, spiked

Produced by
Viv Regan managing editor, spiked
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