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Dead Aid [Hardcover]

Dambisa Moyo
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 17 2009

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 in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined—and millions continue to suffer. Provocatively drawing a sharp contrast between African countries that have rejected the aid route and prospered and others that have become aid-dependent and seen poverty increase, Moyo illuminates the way in which overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries that guarantees economic growth and a significant decline in poverty—without reliance on foreign aid or aid-related assistance.

Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.

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Praise for Dead Aid

“Moyo is right to raise her voice, and she should be heard if African nations and other poor countries are to move in the right direction.” —Jagdish Bhagwati, Foreign Affairs

“Moyo presents a refreshing view.” —Lisa Miller, Newsweek

“A tightly argued brief . . . Vivid.” —Matthew Rees, The Wall Street Journal

“An incendiary new book . . . Here is a refreshing voice . . . What makes Dead Aid so powerful is that it’s a double-barrelled shotgun of a book. With the first barrel, Moyo demolishes all the most cherished myths about aid being a good thing. But with the second, crucially, she goes on to explain what the West could be doing instead.” —Christopher Hart, The Daily Mail

“Dambisa Moyo is to aid what Ayaan Hirsi Ali is to Islam. Here is an African woman, articulate, smart, glamorous, delivering a message of brazen political incorrectness: cut aid to Africa. Aid, she argues, has not merely failed to work; it has compounded Africa’s problems. Moyo cannot be dismissed as a crank . . . She catalogues evidence, both statistical and anecdotal . . . The core of her argument is that there is a better alternative [and it deserves] to be taken seriously.” —Paul Collier, The Independent

“The wisdom contained here—if absorbed by African and global policymakers—will turn this chronically depressed continent into an inspiring miracle of dazzling economic growth.” —STEVE FORBES, President and Chief Executive Officer of Forbes and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine

“Dambisa Moyo makes a compelling case for a new approach in Africa. Her message is that Africa’s time is now. It is time for Africans to assume full control over their economic and political destiny. Africans should grasp the many means and opportunities available to them for improving the quality of life. Dambisa is hard—perhaps too hard—on the role of aid. But her central point is indisputable. The determination of Africans, and genuine partnership between Africa and the rest of the world, is the basis for growth and development.” —KOFI ANNAN, former Secretary-General of the United Nations

Dead Aid is an important book . . . at the very least, [it] provides a first step towards changing how America, and the world, thinks about how to help Africa.” —Heather Wilhelm, Real Clear World

Dead Aid is a wonderfully liberating book.” —Doug Bandow, The Washington Times

“[Moyo’s] book offers an analytical, researched approach to restoring life and sufficiency in this developing continent. Dead Aid calls for a new way of thinking . . . After unraveling the myth created by many policymakers and celebrities that Africa simply needs more charity, Moyo poses a series of hopeful alternatives . . . Moyo speaks with both cultural and academic authority, unpacking the full nature of poverty and its regional impact. She unveils the sobering reality that $1 trillion in financial aid has not helped, but rather hindered African economies and their ability to grow into sustainable markets. This book offers a fresh insight into the plight of poverty and a vision for developmental change—the kind of change that could help millions.” —Curt Devine, Relevant

“Dambisa Moyo’s book Dead Aid is a timely book which brings forth what we have been thinking about Western aid, but did not dare to speak out . . . Moyo has shown brilliantly that Western aid, governmental or non-governmental, couldn’t help Africa in regard to transforming to a better form of social organization, by which innovation and technological development become possible . . . Moyo shows the strong correlation between increasing aid dependency, corruption and the nature of government structures in many African countries . . . In general Moyo’s book is a very challenging book, and addresses our problems. It confronts those aid gurus, like Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, who manipulate the African leaders with their neo-liberal agendas. It is a very good starting point for further discussion, and can contribute to eliminating confusing ideas.” —Fekadu Bekele, Merkato Blog,

“A radical, counterintuitive solution to the continent’s economic problems . . . [Moyo] is unequivocal, not to mention convincing.” —Jason Zasky, Failure Magazine

“The evidence assessing the impact of aid on economic growth (or the lack thereof) is comprehensive and convincing.” —Apoorva Shah, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

“Moyo’s indictment of the past 50 years of aid-giving is compelling . . . [She] has written a well-informed book, and her passionate commitment to improving Africa’s fortunes drips from every page.” —Jonathan Wright, Geographical

About the Author

Dambisa Moyo is the author of How the West Was Lost. Born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia, Moyo completed a Ph.D. in economics at Oxford University and holds a master’s from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She worked for the World Bank as a consultant, and also worked at Goldman Sachs for eight years. In 2009, Time magazine named her one of the “100 most influential people in the world.” Her writing frequently appears in publications including the Financial Times, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Big on ideas, short on analysis July 21 2009
By J. Tobin Garrett TOP 1000 REVIEWER
After reading Jeffrey Sach's book The End of Poverty (his main argument calling for more aid to Africa), I felt that I should read a book arguing for the opposite, so I picked up Dead Aid.

The central argument is that aid is bad for Africa, and in fact, is the reason that Africa is caught in a poverty trap. It's an interesting argument, and one that I was ready to be convinced of, but I felt that Moyo didn't provide enough analysis and evidence for her claims. Too many times I found myself asking the questions: how? and why? While I am inclined to agree with her central claim, her argument in the specifics was too simplistic and she often presented the link between aid and Africa's plight as causal, when really it seem corollary.

The book is too short and the analysis too brief to hold up to the mighty claim that she proposes. Clocking in at only 153 pages, the book dedicates 19 pages to a brief history of aid (which is really well done), another 19 pages to show that aid isn't working, and 21 pages to prove that aid actually kills growth. While I'm not a fan of bloated writing for no reason, Moyo needed more evidence, more explanation to back up her arguments.

Even though I found the beginning part of the book frustrating at times, I was looking forward to her ideas on how to develop Africa without the help of aid (which the next 80 pages or so are dedicated towards). She has some interesting ideas around capital markets, foreign direct investment, and micro-lending, but again I found her arguments to be overly simplistic and too brief to be convincing. She discusses how trade should be a big factor in the growth of Africa, something that's obviously true.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book before you send your money May 5 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
With all the hype about deadbeat western governments not living up to their committment to African aid, this book stops the shame-game dead in its tracks. Written by someone who has grown up and lived in Africa, not just visted in a chartered jet, this book looks at the way so much of our foreign aid is at best misdirected and at worst completely squandered. The author argues that simply propping up hand-out programs and feeding corrupt regimes does little to improve the long term survival of this highly dysfunctional continent. Instead she offers a more logical structured approach to fixing the problem through empowerment, and goes on to offer hope in what so many see as a hopeless situation. The money still needs to be forthcoming, just not in the way it is being currently applied. This book tells us how to do it right.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give the people of Africa what they really need Sept. 26 2010
By Andy
This book offered an easy to read history and viable solutions to helping Africa. Dead Aid will change the way that you think of Africa. Dead Aid wasn't full of confusing economic theories or in-depth history but clear, concise points. The book is a quick read but very helpful in understanding Africa and its people. Dead Aid should be recommended reading for politicians, business people, and aid groups.
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5.0 out of 5 stars bongo for Dongo! Nov. 29 2012
By Brian Maitland TOP 500 REVIEWER
Author Dambisa Moyo blows the lid off the Western aid program to Africa showing how Africa despite billions and billions of dollars in aid since the end of colonialism has regressed as a continent economically. The book is short and sweet because the author can write. I see there are complaints by other reviewers but she's not writing a thesis or a report for the World Bank. I'm sure she's done that before given her educational and working background.

What Moyo has done has shown how aid is pure folly in the vast majority of cases and how, mainly China now, is showing what direct investment in Africa can do. There are successes pre-China into Africa that Moyo covers such as Botswana which show that outside of the big boys of South Africa and Egypt that African nations can get their act together.

The fun thing about the book is she breaks it all down by introducing a fictional typical African nation called Dongo to some chapters to show how her theories may play out. Look, let's get over the idea she has all the answers. At least she is presenting an interesting argument and one that most aid workers will readily admit is true (at least off the record).

All in all, it's a must-read for anyone interested in the global economy, Africa and aid in general.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's a disaster story of a different type most of us think we know but this book goes into technological detail of ALL the miss steps of many. I couldn't stand it after a few hours.
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