African ‘Dead Aid’ Will Stop Within 5 Years: Part Two

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By Nomazulu Thata                                                                      

In part one I concentrated on Dr. Dambisa’s “Dead Aid” book she passionately wrote in 2009 highlighting the need for Africa to shift its focus away from foreign aid and instead, seeking solutions that are sustainable to the economy of Africa and other aspects of development: solutions that bring dignity to the populations of this great continent.

Dambisa Moyo wishes for an unconditional cut in aid giving African countries in a specified period of 120 months: after 5 years Africa must define its economic trajectory without aid. This idea it is not meant to punish Africa per se.

She is saying, in a nutshell: Africa, please wake up, let us not be permanent beggars; treat ourselves as children, command respect from colonisers. There is no respect in a people that think they are entitled to receiving aid without end. Our continent is rich, let those riches benefit the nations of Africa, not Chinese.

If some of the African countries have been independent from colonialism past 50 years, 5 decades of wrong diagnosis, it is the reason why Africa is still languishing in poverty and destitution.

Africa is lagging behind any form of development. We need to accept facts that it is not the neo-colonialism that is pulling the development of Africa down, partly perhaps. Overall, the lack of competent leadership in Africa is the devil in the detail.

We have not mastered the essentials of management skills at all levels of social, economic, and political development. When we fail, we look to blame colonialism and how neo-colonialism is still pulling the continent down.

This means we have not taken the continent’s challenges as the measure of our ability to demand independence and govern ourselves better than what made us take up arms to rid ourselves of colonialism.

I have had the chance to be an EU parliamentary candidate in 2019, this experience gave me insight into how foreign Aid to Africa is perceived. It will not be long Europe switches off its aid (in German they call it Gießkannen Prinzip) Realizing how Aid is being mismanaged by back-handed African leaders who have no respect about their own citizens, but somehow African leaders think that it is the responsibility of western countries to give their hard-earned taxpayer’s money to feed hungry Africans on the continent.

The EU discussions around aid, in Germany especially at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development borders on redefining aid to Africa and replace it with mechanisms about aid that could work under favourable circumstances.

Let us remember that this concept of EU Marshall Plan with Africa came in when the global migration reached its peak in 2015. Millions of global citizens including Africa, were seeing Europe as the only destination where there is relative peace, law, and order. But there is a limit with which Europe can be destination for global citizens from failed democracies in the world.

In 2015, Germany was brought to its hard realisation that even mainstream political parties that accepted refugees in war-torn countries such as Syria and Kurdish Turks, Iraq, including African migrants has its restraints.

Europe’s social nets have never been shaken, so threatened in recent post WW2 history, a development that led to resurfacing rise of right-wing parties that were voted handsomely into parliaments across Europe: No-one in Europe saw that coming; democracy is fragile and not as secure as we think.

Back to Africa: It should never be underestimated that there is daily loss of life in the Sahara Desert. The vast empty desert is a place where there is hardly any rule of law. The travellers are faced with challenges of running short of food and water. People coming from the SSA are caught and arrested in this region on their way to the coasts of North Africa.

They are packaged as slaves in North African markets and are sold at a cost of 400 US dollars each. Women are not spared in this slave trade. Some of them if they are unlucky, find themselves North African brothel cities.

Only a fraction of citizens in transition reach the shores of North Africa enroot to Europe. More and more people attempt this perilous sea crossing over the western Mediterranean. Over 3 000 have drowned the past five years. As if it is not enough, recently there was an appeal from the UN Department for Refugees that citizens should be careful about their movements to North of Africa as most of them are caught and are forced for donation of organs.

It is for this reason that the EU Marshall Plan with Africa would like to focus on how to turn the desert into a blessing for both continents. The world is yearning for renewable energy source. The Sahara Desert comes in to offer a huge resource base for permanent energy demands for both continents.

If this project is crafted transparently, it can guarantee not only tax-base to North African countries but will offer job opportunities to millions of Africans. Job creation and availability of it for the growing population in Africa are the sources of stability in the continent. Young generation of Africans must see Africa as a continent with answers for present and future development.

The Club of Rome is particularly interested in Sahara’s solar energy potential and can offer sustainability in the North African region. Economic activities in the Sahara can be a buffer to north migration, saving thousands of lives.

The EU Marshall Plan with Africa sees the EU engagement with North African countries as the first step to curb uncontrolled migration but remains open to SSA to come together and engage them in the fight against poverty caused by failed governments and climate change.

EU is not imposing itself in engaging with SSA to fight poverty. However, EU Marshall Plan with Africa remains a golden opportunity for Africa to come together with its neighbour EU at eye-level, on the same page to tackle issues that bedevil the southern continent especially the SSA in the foreseeable absence of aid.

The huge potential in technical know-how and natural resources in these two neighbouring continents can benefits both. Consequently, EU is obliged to be part of poverty solution in Africa. Africa, in the 2nd Millennium should never be ravaged by poverty of this magnitude while its neighbour Europe is living in plenty.

There are challenges of implementing EU Marshall Plan with Africa. To appreciate these, let us go back to 1950s in Europe when the initial Marshall Plan was implemented in European countries.

The entire Europe was ravaged by the WW2 and was finding the reconstruction of its infrastructures difficult without assistance from USA. The USA Marshall Plan was finite: it was a five-year recovery plan unlike infinite African Aid.

EU was given AID only to implement and reconstruct infrastructure development. The EU countries accepted those terms in the Marshall Plan agreement. For this reason, the Marshall Plan was a great success because purpose of aid was defined in document.

Aid focussed on rebuilding war-torn economies that trickled down to uplifting political, social, and economic development by strengthening their institutions – a different scenario with aid to Africa of 50 years with about a billion US dollars yearly flowing to Africa as Aid.

European countries were not wholly relied on Marshall Aid, unlike African countries on Aid. But because Marshall Plan in Europe was a great success, western countries wanted a repeat of this success to Africa too. Dambisa Moyo refutes this in her book: “given Africa’s poor economic performance in the past fifty years, while billions of aid have been poured in, it is hard to grasp how another swathe of billions will somehow turn Africa’s Aid experience into one of success.” Redefining Aid to Africa is of great necessity to Africa and the donors. The EU Marshall Plan to Africa should be on-going projects-oriented assistance focusing on energy, transport, roads, and railways. Aid must go into rural development and agriculture to assist the communities to produce enough food and improving the living conditions: ability to accessing health, clean water, and sanitation. It is of paramount importance to guarantee food securities: only then can communities stabilize and remove unnecessary internal and external displacement.

Technical assistance in SSA is necessary to tackle climate change too. SSA is severely deforested caused by our use of wood as fuel to this day and age. The use of solar as an alternative source of energy to wood is a pure joker in Africa.

EU Marshall Plan with African is possible in countries that adhere to democratic governance. Democracy is a leading determinant in any progress in the country. Any country needs a just and enforceable legal framework. Property rights of citizens must be respected; the African countries should be able to ensure checks and balances, defend the rule of law, and an established free press. But, in retrospect the Africa we know is far from ideal: it is a continent marred with massive corruption in every institution, cronyism, dysfunctional state institutions, no democratic spaces, uncompetitive economy, no independent judiciary; the list is just too long. Such practices stifle the economy instead of stimulating it.

It is a fact that Africa Aid will be stopped, especially in the wake of SARS-COVID 19 global pandemic. It is a question of when the tap will be switched off. This will be an opportunity for the Africa to seek a new trajectory in the absence of Aid. To continue syphoning billions of dollars of national revenues to China and Dubai is not clever to do. The former President of Congo: Mobutu Sese Seko looted 5 billion UD dollar state revenues, only ¾ of a billion was repatriated back to Congo after his death. Mugabe looted 15 billion dollars of Zimbabwe’s diamond revenues to Far Eastern countries, while Zimbabwe is languishing in abject poverty and destitution. Other countries in the continent are busy looting from nations coffers without sense of guilt. Looted cash to foreign banks and institutions, inadvertently strengthens those foreign economies against their own at home. An uneducated President will not know this.

It is a great challenge how the EU Marshall Plan will be kick-started amid current challenges bedevilling Africa. The African countries should know that good politics is when they can eradicate poverty and hunger as their primary policy and good governance. It is only a good democratic environment pegged by social, and political stability, a precursor of economic growth, can jump-start a viable economy including Africa without Aid.