01 Mar Could Africa’s lost billions end poverty at a stroke?
PovertyMatters Blog, Guardian.co.uk
If you express concerns about the negative consequences that over-dependence on aid can have for development, as I did in Mali recently, a common response is that there is no alternative. How else can vital services and infrastructure be funded? This is entirely reasonable. If there were an obvious alternative, it would have been adopted by now.
But aid is not the only option, it is just the easiest. There are myriad policies western governments could adopt to help Africa and other poor regions finance development. They just happen to be slightly more costly to us and/or run up against more powerful vested interests.
The current spotlight on north African despots points to one of these alternatives. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former president, has apparently managed to accumulate $70bn over the years. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has something of that order as well, which makes Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali the region’s presidential pauper with a feeble $3.5bn to his name.