Standing Ovation for Dambisa Moyo – By Belayneh Abate

May 26th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

If you want to know Dambisa Moyo, please just do one thing like this writer did. Read Dead AID! (more…)

If you want to know Dambisa Moyo, please just do one thing like this writer did. Read Dead AID! [1] Since I found her in our neighborhood, in some cases at my family’s dinner table through her book, Dead AID, I call her Dambisa (instead of calling her Ms or Dr. Moyo) as a close relative. Unlike the “AID Vendors” such as IMF, World Bank, Western Governments and Non- Governmental Organizations, Dambisa did not waste most of her time baby-sitting the self-enriching and criminal African rulers. She examined Africans’ kitchens from Libya to South Africa and From Ethiopia to Mauritania. Her conclusion? You may not be surprised! AID dreadfully hurts ordinary Africans!

Dependence to drugs, alcohol, smoking, and other chemical and physical agents is dangerous to any human being. Dependence to AID is not an exception, either. If you raise your child in such a way that you solve all the problems he/she encounters including his/her math assignment, no doubt that you hamper your child’s mental development and future progress.

Some of you may be familiar with the biological concept called disuse atrophy. Disuse atrophy, in simple terms, implies waste of body part as a result of failure to use it. The self -appointed African rulers use their brain to pray facing towards the West (not to the East as some religious groups do) for continuous rains and showers of dollars, pounds and Euros. On the other hand they utilize their muscles and fists to harass, and carnage their tax payers. As a result their unused or misused brains dwindle in “size” and function as their exercising muscles increase in bulk proportional to the number of years they stayed in power. As you can imagine, these kinds of people do not care about the current or future generation nor know how to use the AID fund. The corrupt rulers, who devote most of their time to strengthen their muscle instead of enriching their brains with good will, amass most of the “AID” money in the western banks and distribute the rest among their relatives and local loyalties. Therefore, the phrase AID to Africa is a misnomer. It should be called a Gift to African Despots (GAD).

Not surprisingly, Dambisa Moyo understands African problems more than her former mentor and boss Jeffery Sachs does. Jeffery Sachs, one of the world’s influential economists, regrettably supports and encourages funding African dictators such as Ethiopian rulers who are accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by genocide watch and other human rights groups. [2-3] Although we did not carry out extensive research like Dambisa Moyo did, we Africans fully understand how our homes and neighborhoods look like. We are fully aware that only a petite fraction of this “AID” reaches to its proposed destination. Furthermore, we undoubtedly know that taxes collected from destitute ordinary Africans only do not enable African tyrants to buy guns, produce ammunitions, feed their private soldiers, conduct systematic extra-judicial killings, commit genocide, build prisons to snare dissents, block access to information and knowledge, hire well –experienced western lobbyists, accrue wealth (in billions) in Western banks and commit other forms atrocities in Africa. In fact, these kinds of crime scenes are the coffins and graves of the DEAD AID Dambisa Moyo is talking about.

Having praised Dambissa for her bold and imperative suggestions to re-examine Africa’s developmental problems, I would cordially like to comment on triple limitations that concerns me most.

1. Regarding the methods used to analyze the problem: Although reviewing a book in a research paper format is not customary, I would like to comment on the methods she chose to convince readers that AID is the major factor for Africa’s failure to thrive. I suppose the null hypothesis when she proposed to solve the problem was “AID enhances development”. By implication, the alternate hypothesis was AID does not foster development or AID thwarts development. Therefore, the outcome of interest (dependent variable) is development, and the determinant (independent variable) is AID or GAD. Dambisa believes that strong inverse relationship exists between these two variables (AID and development). She also looked at the other determinant factors of development such as people diversity, natural resources, and lack of freedom, social capital, civil wars, corruption, the Chinese factor and others. However, she examined the impact of these factors individually instead of putting them in one model. I might have overlooked it, but I did not see any reference that proved the inverse association of AID to development after accounting for all the other variables she mentioned. Since these determinant factors for development are highly inter-related, collenearity and confounding effects could be significant scientific challenges for her claim. However, for we Africans who are currently experiencing (directly or indirectly) the ill-effects of Gift to African Despots (otherwise known as AID to Africa), absence of effect estimates, confidence intervals and/ or p-values could not deter us from concurring with Dambisa’s conclusion. We do not necessarily need computer generated data while we are feeling the damaging effect of AID (GAD) on Africa’s soil. O Ya! GAD continuously and horribly disable Africans and ruins their future.

2. Concerning downplaying the importance of elected leadership for economic growth and development: The success of some countries ruled by totalitarian regimes such as China does not justify undermining the importance of elected leadership in economic development. Populations who live swimming in Fear Ocean and working under the Jungle Law cannot be productive at all. A brain engorged with horror could not sleep peacefully let alone think clearly to churn out innovative ideas and goods. In most African countries the people fear the despots s and the despots, in turn, are scared of the people. That means fear, not hope, reigns in most of the African countries. Fear generates tension and instability that turns away domestic and foreign investors. Furthermore, dictators in Africa frequently provoke ethnic fracas which obviously affects productivity. After all undermining the importance of elected leadership contradicts her own claim that Africa’s dictators such as Mobutu Sese Seko exported billions of dollars to Western Countries. Elected leaders rarely commit these kinds of crimes against their own people. In fact this writer hypothesizes that famine of freedom accounts for the giant portion of Africa’s development and growth retardation.

3. Pertaining to exaggerated positivity towards China’s expansion in Africa: Observing concrete roads here and there in Sudan or other parts of Africa could not prove China’s contribution to African development. I do not think the positive survey results about China that Dambisa talks about are reliable, either. Africans are comparing China with their own harmful governments and Westerners who fund the African despots. For example ordinary citizens in Darfur and Ethiopia my vote in favor of china, because firstly they do not know China’s back door deal with the corrupted tyrants and secondly they see Chinese people paving roads while their rulers command their private soldiers to abuse innocent citizens on the sidewalks of Darfur and Addis Ababa. On the contrary informal convenient survey results of informed Africans dictate that since China started expansion in the continent, corruption increased in geometric progression. The Chinese government, like World Bank and IMF, works with the heinous African rulers not with African people. In fact Chinese Engineers are busier in blocking information access such as internet , text messages and radio waves (it could be part of the deal package) than constructing roads especially in East Africa.[4] That means China is paid a good sum by African Despots for promoting darkness in Africa. In other words China is another grave yard for Dambisa Moyo’s lifeless AID.

In general, Dmabisa Moyo has demonstrated the negative impact of AID (GAD) to ordinary Africans from historical, economical, political and social perspectives. Furthermore, as the Honorable Kofi Annan pointed out in his praise to the DEAD AID, Dambisa has underlined that Africans should be determined to take alternative approaches to tackle the continent’s complex problems and improve quality of life. In my opinion, Dambissa Moyo has, at least, opened the door to re-examine Africa’s problems. When we meet people like Dambisa Moyo who devote their intellect, time and energy to change the lives of others, standing ovation is the least to offer. Let’s stand and cheer! Thank you!

End notes:
1. Dambisa Moyo; Dead AID; Why AID is not working and how there is a better way for Africa
2. (accessed on 5/24/09)
3. Genocide Watch, Letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human right. (accessed on 5/25/09)
4. Genocide watch/Ethiopi (accessed on 5/25/09)
5. Ethiopia blocks opposition websites:
6. Abbay Media is blocked in Ethiopia & Sudan;

The writer can be reached at

Related Readings

1. African Union: A Shameful Misnomer
2. Addressing African Rulers
3. “Woyi” Africa

  1. ይሁን
    | #1

    she is a real person, she is telling Westerners to stop their bigotry and African leaders not to rule by the law of the West. Although you may be assassinated like Patrice Lumumba for serving your people instead of western parasites, you will be remembered forever and others will follow your foot print.

    Thanks Moyo, you are just extra ordinary.

  2. ewnetu
    | #2

    Thank you Moyo.

  3. Yitbarek
    | #3

    Well written script. Thank you for refreshing us.

  4. Lemmessa
    | #4

    Job outstandigly done, Ato Abate.


  5. Ayeresu
    | #5

    Good analysis Belayneh;

    I read Dead Aid. Dead Aid is dead right with respect to pointing out the problems of aid in Africa. Reading her book for me was like reading what I felt all along. Unfortunately, I am not an economist and it is difficult for me to judge if the solutions she proposed would work.

    For those interested about foreign aid and development, I recommend reading the book “Foreign Aid Reconsidered” by Roger Riddell. It is old, published in 1987. But it provides an extended theoretical analysis of aid. Even then, 2 decades ago, Riddell concluded that there is no positive relationship between aid and development. The last 20 years have shown that not only is aid unrelated to development, but also aid is damaging too.

    Unlike Belayneh, I agree with Moyo’s conclusion that Africa doing business with China (or China with Africa) is good. I agree with her that the relationship between Africa and the west is based on pity feeling and contempt and is counter productive for encouraging trade.

    We have to remember that Mobutu was a regular guest at Washington while it was clear that he was using all aid money plus all the resources of the country as his private property, while he oppresses his people and let the infrastructure fall apart. Mugabe in the 1980s killed thousands in Matabeleland but was awarded Knighthood few years later by “the Queen”. Only when he touches the “untouchables” did the west turned against him.

    At least the Chinese intend to do business and bring about some positive impact. They are rebuilding the fallen infrastructure of Congo – of course they will get minerals. Sudan’s economy is growing (don’t tell me that it is because of oil – Nigeria has more oil for many years but Nigerian relation with UK didn’t raise their economy).

    The Chinese don’t glorify or award bad leaders. They just ignore what they do – they ignore what they shouldn’t ignore. Like you said, sometimes they actively provide technical help to dictators. But in many other African countries, they have good and positive impact.

    We should remember that there is no country ruled by a holy person or holy government. Somehow, Africa needs genuine business partners and Europe and US aren’t good business partners. Others have to fill that gap; and China has become the one to do that.

    I wish, though, if India, Brazil, Turkey, etc also do more business with African countries.

  6. Lemma
    | #6


    Good point about China. But what the writer says is the chinese importance is exaggerated and people does not really know what they are doing.

    What I like about this articel most is the scientic analysis under number one. excellent question.

Comments are closed.