Not long ago I read a great article on Huffington Post Impact, where the author quotes Idris Bello, "a self-proclaimed 'Afropreneur'", who says that
"Africa does not need aid anymore."Right when I was about to share the article on Twitter along with my own "Amen to this" I found myself thinking: "But what about thousands of Africans that are in desperate need of immediate help, right now, at this moment?" Will the meager needs of people who live in the Horn of Africa - that is experiencing yet another sever drought - be met or will hundreds die abandoned? Will women all around rural Africa have to see their kids die from water borne diseases, because their villages have no source of clean drinking water? Will an African child have to sleep without a malaria net tonight? Because simply giving a net/bottle of water/bag of grain to people in need is not sustainable. Yet this does save lives.
To begin with, let's just say not all aid programs are created equal. Compare TOMS shoes - check out Saundra Schimmelpfennig's article on why it is bad aid - and Water Credit that I consider an example of smart aid. Another thing we shouldn't forget is that Africa is not a country, but a continent of 53 very different countries.
For example, the home country of Mr. Bello, Nigeria, thanks to its rich oil reserves is doing much better economically than some other African states. With all the oil money coming into the country (even though most of them do settle in the pockets of corrupt government officials) standard of living in Nigeria has risen significantly. However, what is even more important for Nigeria is that the country has just had its first truly democratic presidential election. That will ensure even a better investment environment in the country. However, not all the countries in Africa are blessed with oil or a somehow stable political situation. On the other end of spectrum are Somalia, DRC, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Malawi and such. These are some of the poorest states in the world, with a very extensive list of development problems, where populations live in truly despicable conditions. The truth is that governments of these countries are not even just not up for the task, but the bureaucrats there genuinely don't care about their people. From Mobutu Sese Seko and Idi Amin to Omar Al-Bashir and Robert Mugabe, this pattern seems to be unbreakable.
The question is: who will provide all these resources and help people in dire need if not foreign aid agencies?