Wednesday, 06 November 2019 07:05



The Marshal plan's success in Europe generated a strong optimism towards the possibilities of helping developing countries that had just gained independence. Since the mid-1970s Africa has been the largest recipient of foreign aid, mainly provided to end extreme poverty and promote economic growth. Foreign Aid flows to Africa have been in various forms such as loans, foreign direct investment (FDI), grants, joint ventures and technical assistance provided not only by individual governments to government aid programs but also international development institutions like the IMF and the world bank. Despite Africa attracting a substantial amount of foreign aid over the years, the continent has continually been plagued with absolute poverty and continues to experience low growth rates as millions of people continue to suffer in poverty. [1]

Huge flows of foreign aid have created an aid dependency syndrome instead of increasing development in Africa. It is estimated that the continent has been receiving more than 1 trillion US dollars for the past 50 years.[2]The constant capital inflows from the developed world have not significantly help in achieving self-sustaining development for the continent. If anything, Africa has become so dependent on foreign aid to the point where half of its yearly budgetary undertakings cannot be met without it. [3]

The aid dependency syndrome has increased the long-term external debt burden of Africa. The conditionalities attached to the debt and the cost of managing that debt has reduced investments and has lowered the economic growth rate of the continent. Severe debt burdens have made Africa be economically slavish to the aid providers.[4]

 Most of the time foreign aid is being given with conditionalities in Africa. It tends to serve the strategic and economic interests of the donors. Therefore, aid is always channeled to achieve specific goals stated by the aid providers rather than allowing developing countries to align it with their priority needs locally. Hence, failing to achieve its purpose because it’s conformed to the needs and conditions of the aid providers.[5]

Additionally, foreign aid has increased corruption in Africa. As Moyo plainly contends that “the most obvious criticism of aid is how it escalates corruption. Aid flows destined to help the average African end up supporting bloated bureaucracies in the form of the poor-country governments and donor-funded non-governmental organizations. Thereby making it too easy for the funds to be used for anything, save the developmental purpose for which they were intended.”[6]

It's high time the African government realizes that the prosperity of the continent solemnly lies on their hands and not on-aid providers. For Africa to achieve its development, it needs to carefully manage its natural resources by preventing external powers from exploiting its resources. Also, leaders in Africa need to focus on creating a conducive environment that will be significant in promoting domestic economies, enhancing private sector growth, enticing foreign investment, encouraging intra-African trade which is key to sustainable development and lastly, working out a deal on knowledge sharing and transfer of technology for development.


[1] Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering development: The making and unmaking of the third world. Princeton: Princeton University Press.[1]

[3] Riddell, R. C. (2007). Does foreign aid really work? Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[4]Soludo CC, ‘Debt, poverty and inequality: Towards an exit strategy for Nigeria and Africa’, in Okonjo-Iweala N, C Soludo & M Muhtar (eds.), The Debt Trap in Nigeria. Trenton NJ: Africa World Press Inc., 2003, pp. 2374

[5] Addison, T., Mavrotas, G. & M. McGillivray. 2005. Aid to Africa: An unfinished agenda. Journal of International Development, 17:989-1001.

[6] Moyo D, ‘Why foreign aid is hurting Africa’, 2009, at SB123758895999200083.html (date accessed 8 April 2009).



 [RA1]Which burden? Debt?

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