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Moyo to Bono: Africa Needs U like a Fish Needs a Bicycle

Economist Dambisa Moyo is on the interview circuit promoting her new book (Dead Aid). Dr. Moyo is at odds with celebrity spokespeople (the title is a play on lyrics from a U2 song). Fantastic set of quotes below from a couple of interviews. Her criticism of Bono might be a bit harsh, for another take, see MinneAfrica which discusses some of the limitations of Moyo’s thinking.

NY Times, Questions for Dambisa Moyo – The Anti-Bono Feb 19, 2009
NYT: As a native of Zambia with advanced degrees in public policy and economics from Harvard and Oxford, you are about to publish an attack on Western aid to Africa and its recent glamorization by celebrities. ‘‘Dead Aid,’’ as your book is called, is particularly hard on rock stars. Have you met Bono?

MOYO: I have, yes, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last year. It was at a party to raise money for Africans, and there were no Africans in the room, except for me.

NYT: You argue in your book that Western aid to Africa has not only perpetuated poverty but also worsened it, and you are perhaps the first African to request in book form that all development aid be halted within five years.

MOYO: Think about it this way — China has 1.3 billion people, only 300 million of whom live like us, if you will, with Western living standards. There are a billion Chinese who are living in substandard conditions. Do you know anybody who feels sorry for China? Nobody.

Financial Times
“She is venturing into a debate that has to date been colonised by white men – be they rock stars such as Bono, politicians such as Tony Blair or the academics Jeffrey Sachs and Bill Easterly…”

FT: So what of the rock and Hollywood stars, who have appointed themselves advocates of making poverty history? She is withering:

MOYO: “Most Brits would be irritated if Michael Jackson started offering advice on how to resolve the credit crisis. Americans would be put out if Amy Winehouse went to tell them how to end the housing crisis. I don’t see why Africans shouldn’t be perturbed for the same reasons”…


Written by Aman

February 26, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Food for thought

2 Responses

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  1. I totally agree with you, that is what caught my attention, someone speaking up – we need more of that! On the other hand I hope her argument to end all aid is not used as propaganda for disingenuous interests.


    March 3, 2009 at 7:14 pm

  2. Having read her NYTimes interview, I’m so excited about reading this book. I just pre-ordered it. I love hearing people speak truth to power, especially bad-ass women of color. woot.

    Cat Laine

    March 3, 2009 at 5:10 pm

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