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Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  3,193 ratings  ·  302 reviews
'Dead Aid' analyses the history of economic development over the last 50 years and shows how aid crowds out financial and social capital and directly causes corruption. He also shows how, with improved access to capital and markets and with the right policies, even the poorest nations could be allowed to prosper.
Paperback, 188 pages
Published May 13th 2009 by Allen Lane: Penguin Books (first published March 17th 2009)
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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
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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 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
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
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
Dominic Carrillo
Review of 'Dead Aid':

At first, I couldn’t get past what seemed like a parody sketch in the introduction by Niall Ferguson—a white, British, male author attesting to the credibility and authenticity of the female, well-educated, black African author (Moyo) as a preface to mostly Western, white readers. I imagined being with Mr. Ferguson at a bar: He tells me to watch and learn as the bartender shows us how to make a ‘White Russian’ cocktail. Ferguson implores me to 'pay close attention and learn'
I have no background or solid foundation in economics. This is not my field; let's just get that out of the way right off the bat. My interest is in the lingering effects of colonialism in Africa. I chose to read Dead Aid because the author is African. Most of my reading on this subject has been written by westerners. So even though this is more about governments, economics, and numbers, when I am more interested in culture, the local church, and the general attitude of the public, Moyo's perspe ...more
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Great African Reads: * April-June: Dead Aid 12 49 Oct 03, 2014 10:55PM  
  • The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
  • The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
  • Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail
  • Development as Freedom
  • More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics Is Helping to Solve Global Poverty
  • The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong with Humanitarian Aid?
  • The Challenge for Africa
  • It's Our Turn to Eat
  • Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe
  • The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits
  • Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet
  • Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa
  • Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa
  • Tropical Gangsters: One Man's Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa
  • The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn't Working
  • The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World
  • The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa
  • Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

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
“A short-term efficacious intervention may have few discernible, sustainable long-term benefits.” 0 likes
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