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Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa
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Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  3,049 ratings  ·  291 reviews
In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.

In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy
Hardcover, 188 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Community Reviews

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Dead Aid is an interesting, provocative look at the foreign aid industry and its effects on Africa. Dambisa Moyo, who formerly worked for Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, draws a conclusion not unknown to others in the field: development aid (as differentiated from humanitarian aid) has not only done little good for the nations of Africa but has indeed caused great harm. While I don't necessarily disagree with her conclusion, I didn't find her arguments particularly convincing.

There is no quest
Woah woah woah. First of all, what is with the foreward here? "The simple fact that Dead Aid is the work of an African black woman is the least of the reasons why you should read it. But it is a good reason nonetheless." What Niall Ferguson means here is he found a person with the right national & gender background to prop up as a mouthpiece for his neoliberal economic agenda (which he then gleefully presents in the rest of the forward) and could all the critics calling it colonial back off ...more
Clare Herbert
I hate economics. Financial stats and graphs put me asleep, and economic theory is about as interesting as watching ants crawling down the street.

But, I realize that kudos in the world of politics, development and current affairs comes via a sound economic grounding.

So, I’ve been crawling my way through The End of Poverty, which I will review when I finish it. (Probably in 10 years.) In sum, author Jeffrey Sachs advocates a large financial investment and unwavering political will to end the scou
Beth Haynes
I just finished reading Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo.

Her primary thesis is that not only has aid not helped to end poverty (a view also held by William Easterly: The White Man's Burden and The Elusive Quest for Growth, Peter Bauer, and others) but on balance, aid does more harm than good.

Moyo has a PhD in economics, interestingly obtained under the tutelage of foreign aid advocate, Dr. Paul Collier (The Bottom Billion).

The book is short and quickly glosses over multiple topics. For someone unfamilia
Ben Babcock
Africa is this huge, Africa-shaped continent south of Eurasia and kind of east of South America. It’s well known for many reasons, such as elephants, lions (but not tigers or bears), and cheetahs. It’s the place where modern hominins evolved … yet now, millions of years later, it is one of the most impoverished places on Earth. Of course, I’m speaking broadly here. As anyone who has actually done much work on or in Africa will tell you, and as Dambisa Moyo points out in her book, “Africa” is a c ...more
An extremely neoliberal approach to the problem of development in Africa.

Written by a Zambian economist - educated in the UK & US (you can tell) - the book outlines both the problems with current aid to Africa and suggests how the market can offer a better solution.

It was an extremely interesting read - not least the chapter on China - however, there is no disguising that it is a very one-sided view of the problems facing Africa. Noting the issues with infrastructure and liquidity, Moyo offe
Dead Aid, in a well-researched and convincing manner, describes the past and current justifications for humanitarian and development aid in Africa, the drawbacks and failures of this method, and suggests several alternatives for the future. As a layman in the field, I appreciated the clear and coherent writing style and logical construction of the arguments. As a layman, though, I also lack the background to objectively judge the value of the alternate plans she proposes. I do have some uneducat ...more
This little book has been a hit with economists who think that the only solution to grinding third world (African) poverty must be market-based. While it makes good points--particularly that humanitarian aid to Africa hasn't worked as a way to start economic development--those points get lost in Moyo's scattershot approach and lack of documentation. I am sure she has read everything available on the subject but there is no bibliography and only sketchy notes so she doesn't tell us where she got ...more
Derek Simon
As the title suggests, Dambisa Moyo's argument is that not only is foreign aid in Africa not working, it is actually the main cause of Africa's failure to reach its full economic and social potential.

This is an interesting and provocative thesis, and one that certainly challenges allot of mainstream thinking. However, if you are expecting that Dr. Moyo will challenge conventional thinking with some hard evidence, you may be dissapointed. The book mainly consists of some mainstream free market e
Jul 29, 2009 Anna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who care about Africa
Recommended to Anna by: Wamucii
I liked this book a whole lot. Dambiso Moyo is pretty much saying something that most people think is CRAZY -- she is suggesting that we STOP sending aid to Africa. All of it. Why? Because, she says, it's clearly not working. It doesn't give African governments any incentive to change things, it leads to corruption, and "regular" people never see a dime of it anyway. We need change and one way of doing that is by cutting off aid entirely.

When I first heard this I thought it sounded nuts and tot
Jake B
I don't think the author ever really made the case for her proposal. She did however make some fairly compelling critiques of an aid model which may or may not reflect current reality.

My biggest disappointment is that her proposals (chiefly financing through bonds and FDI) while interesting are tossed out as though their benefits are self-evident. There were scattered sentences here and there which could have formed the nucleus of arguments for her position, but these often appeared late in the
Beth Anne
It's pretty hard to argue with the case made by Dambisa Moyo in Dead Aid. Moyo criticizes the Jeffrey Sachses and the Bonos of the world, and calls for a shift away from (and ultimately, a cessation of) the aid-based development model championed by Western policymakers and pop stars. Dead Aid is a quick read, but packs a powerful punch, demonstrating how aid has done more harm than good to Africa and Africans, and how the answer to SUSTAINABLE and substantial economic growth actually lies in mar ...more
Jul 09, 2011 Emily added it
I started this book in '09 but picked it up and re-started it again last month, given the context of my hopeful Peace Corps deployment as a business volunteer in Africa. For anyone who isn't really comfortable with the idea of western governments sending billions of dollars in taxpayer money to Africa, where it often ends up in the corrupt hands of warlords, or with the idea, propagated by Bono et al. that Africa needs "saving" through lavish packages of aid, this is a book that will resonate lo ...more
A fascinating view of how government aid sent to Africa has not only been unsuccessful, but has actually done more harm than good to the African continent and its people. Moyo gives clear examples of how financial aid has been ineffective, along with many possible alternatives that will help further the continent's development and growth. A great read for both world leaders and citizens interested in international development.
Czarny Pies
Nov 18, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in Africa.
Recommended to Czarny by: I saw the eloquent Ms. Moyo interviewed on the CBC,
I possess a CFA charter which means that I have a professional knowledge of banking and credit. Forget what the critics say. Dambisa Moya is not a black woman but a professional banker who knows how lending and banking work. Dambisa Moya's thesis is simple. If Western financial institutions applied the same principles to Africa that that they have always applied in their own countries, Africa would quickly become rich and prosperous.

It is unfortunate that Moyo allowed Niall Ferguson who is somet
I read this book for my research project about Overseas Development Aid (ODA) and had confirmed all the terrible conclusions about ODA that I had drawn from the many other books, articles, reports, etc, that I have read throughout my research. Moyo writes down the things that I'm too scared to say to other people: that the ODA system of the past 40 years is not working, that ODA is largely making things worse, that aid has largely helped horrific dictators stay in power and has assuaged the guil ...more
This book is extremely troubling and worth reading for that reason alone. What Steve Berkman ("Gods of Lending") does at the 'micro' level - showing how aid agencies may be making things worse because their funds are so vulnerable to corruption - Moyo does at the 'macro' level. She returns again and again to the amount of aid that has been given to African countries over the last 5 decades and points to how little there is to show for it. The contrast between aid to Africa - which has an endless ...more
Current aid transfers have become a key factor in paralysis/corruption of African economies. Incentives for change? Not so much on the African side, but for Western economies, she uses the example of the political pressure used to push the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) 2000 through as a lever. Her Five Year Plan for cold turkey appears a bit brutal for the 'bottom.' But as she notes, the wretchedness continues for them regardless so might as well spin the wheels a bit to get out of t ...more
A fresh perspective on development in Africa? Not so much. I don't necessarily agree that AID should be entirely eliminated but we can't deny how ineffective a majority of it has been due to corruption, poor leadership and numerous other reasons too many to cite. Do better conditions, implementations and monitoring need to be provided with AID? Yes! Do African countries need more sustainable and long-term methods of sustaining their economies? Yes. The answer is a combination of both AID and oth ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Miriam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alicia, Econ students, people interested in development, africans, arabs, activists
Recommended to Miriam by: goodreads
Shelves: eco-cool
It took me a while to finish this one but I found it really interesting.

Despite the fact of what you may think about an economics book, it is pretty easy to understand. Obviously there are some parts in which you get stuck, but it is not hard to read (en plus, not a long book given the amount of topics it has inside)
I like the fact that it starts with a bit of Aid history, it heps you understand the context and how not all aid is the same.
The ideas are good and, though I would like to read som
Largely meandering with no coherent argument about why aid, itself, is bad. The largest thesis I found, one of the most highlighted quotes in the kindle version, was that aid promotes laziness by those who get too comfortable with the aid, simply sitting back "and waiting for the checks." This is essentially Reagan's welfare queen ideology, and I'm not sure how something so insulting to Africans got published and widely promoted. Bono's efforts to have debt nullified are dismissed as an insult s ...more
Her work is at times arrogant and overly simplistic, but the core thesis, that aid encourages corruption, undermines the emergence of a tax base from a middle class and frustates SMEs is well made (if by others who she quotes).

"Increases in foreign aid are correlated with declining domestic savings rates... private foreign capital and investment fall as aid rises...higher aid-induced consumption leads to an environment where much more money is chasing fewer goods... higher inflation." (p60)

I als
Roger Sigmon
The author has benefited from the very aid that she is arguing against.She comes from a wealthy family and lived a large portion of her life in the US and was educated in the UK and US and yet bashes those countries' attempts to help her homeland. It is very difficult to continue reading her extreme left approach to solving Africa's problems. Early in the book she suggests that a Republic or Democracy will not work, only a dictatorship. The main take away is she believes that Africa can only pro ...more
Bob Allen
In the first half of "Dead Aid", Ms. Moyo gives a history of aid and an analysis of the primarily negative impact of aid on development and poverty reduction in Africa. Her primary focus is on bi- and multi-lateral aid given to governments. The same analysis and solutions might apply to emergency and charitable aid, but those are not her foci. Essentially, Ms. Moyo says that aid has failed because it has been too easy for corrupt politicians to steal the money or commodities for their personal u ...more
What makes Dambisa's book an excellent read is her ability in demonstrating how entrepreneurship at the economic, BoP and solutions developed by the poor at the economic, BoP have been more productive and beneficial across the tri-fecta, namely, development, poverty alleviation and empowerment. Her ability to do so, while gracefully highlighting the limitations of big-push spending and massively based on due diligence and research have served her well. It's a shame her former teacher, and develo ...more
Elizabeth Oladunni
Impressive, different and definitely a must read.

Moyo delves into the world of African aid and explores its effects and its impact on Africa. She comes to the conclusion that aid - most especially Bilateral/Multilateral aid is bad for Africa; instead of leading to Africa's development, it actually hinders progress.

For the first part of the book, Moyo backs her conclusion with facts and statistics on the effect of aid on post-colonial Africa and how the state of Africa after it first gained indep
I started Dambisa Moyo’s ‘Dead Aid’ expecting to be blown away. It is a controversial book offering a radical argument: Africa has only been harmed by Western aid, so stop sending it.

The first half of ‘Dead Aid’ did not disappoint. Moyo marshals all of her passion and a considerable collection of statistics to make her argument. For example, over 1 trillion US dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) have been sent to Africa in the last fifty years, with little positive effect. It is undeniable that the tr
Dambisa Moyo's dispatch of foreign aid in her controversial 2009 work, Dead Aid, certainly was well-written and meticulously researched. I agree with many of her points and believe that some aid approaches, such as those which use participatory methods, involve public-private partnerships, or make use of conditional cash transfers, are already in place in the world of development work. These could certainly be increased. I also agree with her acerbic critique of those in the "western world" who ...more
Kabilan Rajmano
The question of African development seems curiously swamped by white economists, so an African perspective is refreshing. Her political thesis finds its home in neoliberal theory, ravaging the foreign aid model for a market based mechanism to solve the problems that beset many African nations. She makes some pertinent points and valid solutions though I disagree a complete abandonment of foreign aid is needed. Even if you disagree with her solutions her criticisms are valid and thought provoking ...more
Jun 08, 2014 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: empire
Show must go on, or Africa's pivotal role in the global financial system as liquidity recycler

[Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns and in 2013 posted revenues for $74 billion and $274 million profits. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest h
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Great African Reads: * April-June: Dead Aid 12 46 Oct 03, 2014 10:55PM  
  • The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
  • The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
  • Development as Freedom
  • Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail
  • More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics Is Helping to Solve Global Poverty
  • The Challenge for Africa
  • The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong with Humanitarian Aid?
  • It's Our Turn to Eat
  • Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe
  • Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa
  • Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet
  • Tropical Gangsters: One Man's Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa
  • The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits
  • Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa
  • Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism
  • Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day
  • The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence
  • The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

Dr. Dambisa Moyo is an international economist who writes on the macroeconomy and global affairs.

She is the author of the New York Times Bestsellers "Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa", "How The West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly And the Stark Choices Ahead" and "Winner Take All: China s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World".

Ms. Moyo

More about Dambisa Moyo...
Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly--and the Stark Choices Ahead

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“In a perfect world what poor countries at the lowest rungs of economic development need is not a multi-party democracy, but in fact a decisive benevolent dictator to push through the reforms required to get the economy moving” 8 likes
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