By Kelly Lapham
You think you’re saving the world? Think again. Charity and foreign aid is not the answer to Africa’s problems. Creating wealth is the real challenge.
Most African relief organizations make donors feel as if they have drastically improved the continent’s economic crisis. According to the World Bank, nearly $45 billion was donated to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2009. This sounds wonderful until the truth about aid is revealed. American donations will not make Africa rich. In fact, flooding Africa with aid only strips the continent of its self-reliance.
Africa lacks the internal stability to utilize foreign donations in a way that will stimulate its economy. Sixty percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is under the age of 24 and has little hope for economic advancement. A TED.com speaker, Andrew Mwenda, argues that Africa should not be aiming to reduce poverty, but rather to build wealth.
“Wealth is a function of income and income comes from finding a profitable opportunity,” said Mwenda. According to The Wall Street Journal, over the past 60 years at least a trillion dollars of development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa, but even so, more than 50 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.
Meanwhile, greedy and selfish yet powerful African government officials gain profit from foreign aid. In 2009, Malawi’s former president Bakili Muluzi was charged with stealing $12 million in aid money. Muluzi robbed his country of proceeds needed for health, education and infrastructure. The disappointing part is, money keeps rolling in.
Aid does not allow there to be transparency and trust in the government. In order for Africa to prosper, the people need to trust their governments and the governments need to provide jobs to the people. The problem is, all African governments have to do is make a call to the World Bank, whose mission is “working towards a world free of poverty” and ask for some money. This erases all responsibility of the government and allows an unproductive and negligent group of people to remain in power. Even the richest country in Africa, Equatorial Guinea, is ranked 168 out of 178 in the world in terms of corruption, according to the 2010 Corruption Index.
While charities that raise money for Africa are not necessarily solving their problems, Beads of Hope is one organization that works directly with African people. This project is a perfect real- life example of an alternative to drowning Africa with money. The charity has a specific goal: allowing there to be specialized treatment of an individual issue.
“Beads of Hope is different from other organizations in that we know exactly where the money is going since we’ve had representatives who have traveled to Uganda and personally met the girls in the rehabilitation home,” said senior Madie Dhaliwal, “We can also ensure that the money is not only given for food and water but for education as well, which costs money in Uganda. This way we’re providing a future for these women with financial support that they will hopefully need less of as they find career opportunities later on.”
Africa needs our help, but not through donations. Save yourself the cash by reducing your aid, especially with organizations that do not provide confirmation. Instead, help out in a way in which the impact can physically be seen and you can be sure that you really are making a difference. Africa has a long way to go, but constructing internal reliance is the basis for success.