Friday, April 10, 2009

Can Africa Survive the Good Intentions of the World Bank and the Neo-Colonialist NGOs?

Year by year, Sub-Saharan African countries are growing more impoverished -- and more populated. Despite the perpetual drive for increasing aid from the World Bank and the NGOs, the bottom line is that poverty in Africa is on an exponentially increasing rise. Here is what African economist Dambisa Moyo thinks about western aid to Africa:
The countries in the world receiving the most foreign aid, largely in sub-Saharan Africa, happen to be the poorest—and getting poorer by the year. Is it because they aren’t getting enough aid? Or is aid part of the problem?

...While her predecessors in arguing against aid have been Europeans and Americans, Dambisa Moyo is African by origin. She’s traveled from her native Zambia, however, to Harvard, Oxford, the World Bank, and Goldman Sachs. Africa has become a source of talent for the developed world: the South’s lack of opportunities causes a brain drain, part of poverty’s vicious circle. Moyo’s new book, Dead Aid, would not be so compelling if she were only an African woman recycling her predecessors’ mantras. But she brings to the subject a compelling and easy to understand style, along with personal commitment and moral outrage. And she upholds her argument with striking examples.

...“What if,” she asks, “African countries received a phone call telling them that in five years, the aid tap would be shut off permanently?” But such shock therapy will never happen, as Moyo should know better than anyone from her experience working at the World Bank. U.S., European, or Japanese aid bureaucracies and charities will not put themselves out of business. These well-meaning angels, more focused on intentions than results, do not want to lose their financial, and even more important their moral, raison d’ĂȘtre. The West’s deepest motivation in helping Africa is the feel-good impulse: we want to alleviate our bad conscience. Moyo calls it “glamorous aid.”

...Dysfunctional states will remain hostile to development with or without aid; but without aid, epidemics will rage untreated. Opening developed countries’ markets to African agriculture would be useful, but not sufficient to raise Africa out of poverty. _CityJournal
The real problem -- which is something that neither Moyo nor the writer of the above review in the City Journal dare mention -- is the utter lack of significant high - g human capital in Sub-Saharan Africa. The average IQ of S-S African populations hovers near 70. Optimising nutritional levels in those countries could conceivably raise average scores to 75 or marginally better.

Given that a nation's best educators, scientists, physicians, legal minds, architects, engineers, and technologists will come from the upper end of the IQ distribution, what kind of elite can a nation have when its upper end tops out between 100 and 110 IQ? In the west, an IQ of 125 to 130 is considered a minimum for fielding the best scientists, engineers, technologists, and medical specialists. Such levels of IQ are extremely rare in African populations.

The historical cure for that problem has been the "market dominant minority (M-D-M)", or the "smart fraction". In Rhodesia (then Zimbabwe) and South Africa, the M-D-M were white Europeans, who helped make those two countries the most prosperous on the continent. Formerly in a more prosperous Uganda, the M-D-M consisted of Indians and Lebanese -- prior to Idi Amin's purge of the "outsiders" and the subsequent crash in prosperity and quality of life inside Uganda.

The NGOs have tried to become a quasi- M-D-M, but have had very poor results. China is currently moving in to many countries of S-S Africa, playing the role of a new type of M-D-M which is based more upon a callous self-interest than the "altruistic" NGOs or the more integrated economic industry of previous M-D-Ms. Both the NGOs and the new Chinese interests tend to give the corrupt leaders of African nations exactly what they want -- bribes and a cut off the top -- while leaving the masses of the populations in growing misery and poverty.

Moyo thinks Africans can do better on their own. But that will never happen. Africa has too many riches to be left alone by the developed and emerging world.

No comments: