African successes and the role of aid

There’s a fascinating and encouraging article by Jonathan Power in the current issue of Prospect magazine about the economic progress and successes registered by Tanzania and a raft of other African countries in recent years. Power notes Tanzania’s many on-going successes (and the similar progress made by many other largely unsung African countries) and acknowledges the contribution to that progress of western aid. He also acknowledges the mistakes and failures in aid policy made in the past by donor countries and institutions — and by the media. His article should be compulsory reading for the small army of people who think Africa should be written off as a basket case, that resolving the continent’s many huge problems should be left to the Africans and that western aid and even trade measures can’t make any difference, indeed may even do more harm than good (see my post of earlier today about a recent malicious assault on the Ethiopian famine relief programme of the mid-1980s). It’s refreshing to read Jonathan Power’s words:

"There is no doubt that aid works. The proof of that can be seen in both Tanzania and Uganda from the times when they were given little or no aid. Nothing moved. Look at both countries now and you can see aid projects delivering. Even the Asian tigers, with their undemocratic but capable "development" states, could not have got going without aid—the Americans put South Korea and Taiwan on the road to success."