Have you seen a country developed by foreign aid? An African proverb says:”the receiving hand is always under”. For many years, Africa has been receiving aid from developed countries for relief from the consequences of bad governance, nepotism, tyranny, corruption. Donors have transferred a lot of money to subside governments’ expenses and to stimulate economic development.  How long will Africa continue “to drink the milk” of its financial mothers called donor countries? Even in the animal kingdom, mammals’ offspring leave the comfort of breast feeding and learn to hunt in order to be self sufficient and ensure their survival. Unfortunately, African leaders continue to plan to remain dependant on foreign aid instead of building the needed and long overdue infrastructures to guarantee the continent’s finical independence.  

“Development aid has a nice moral ring to it, and in some people’s view it constitutes a kind of quasi-religious atonement for the sins of colonialism and the “exploitation of the Third World” by capitalist countries. But does it really achieve what its proponents hope it will?” says Rainer Zitelmann (Forbes, August5, 2019).  

What are African leaders busy doing instead of working hard to eradicate poverty?  They are busy stealing from the people they are supposed to help. George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D. in “The Smart Way to Fight Corruption”, shines light on the enormous amount of cash that African leaders have stolen from the people: General Sani Abacha of Nigeria $20 billion, President H. Boigny of Ivory Coast $6 billion, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria $5 billion, President Mobutu of Zaire $4 billion, President Mousa Traore of Mali $ $2 billion ( French Weekly, May, 1997).  

The most recent case is comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where theft is enshrined in the law. In July 2018, before leaving office , President Kabila Kabange Joseph signed into law a bill on the “Status of Former Presidents”, law n°18-021. The legislature loaded all kinds of benefits for former presidents and all kinds of packages for former top leaders of government institutions. When you read this law you have the impression that the legislatures wrote the law at gun point. In fact, a leaked finical statement of the DRC presidency titled “Titre de paiement transféré à la Banque centrale du Congo” shows that in February 2019 former President Kabila is paid $670.000 a month. Another document published by Congovox.com which you can access here, although we have not independently verified its accuracy, shows that former President Kabila’s monthly benefits are even higher. It is possible that Kabila is the highest paid former president, in a country where children do not have classrooms, the nation needs doads, hospitals and much more. With this kind of behavior, does the DRC need foreign aid or it needs help to build a more equitable society and better governance system. If all financial thieves were to return all they have taken to be invested in infrastructures such as roads, the DRC can be an emerging country in less than five years. Does Africa need aid? The answer is a strong no. It needs strong institutions.

By Jacques Bahati , Policy Analyst
email: bahati@afjn.org