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The US and Global Urban Experience

The US and Global Urban Experience

“Dead Aid”- Lingering African Problems and Solutions

In her book "Dead Aid," an economist Dambisa Moyo argues that aid is the cause of the problems Africa is facing (Moyo, 2009). Moyo’s arguments are made in three phases. Firstly, she argues that aid in African continent has demonstrably failed. Secondly, she claims that aid has significantly contributed to poverty. Lastly, she argues that Africa needs better and more effective ways of accelerating economic growth and development. Moyo links some of the lingering developmental problems of the continent with aid. Although some help can reduce the severity of the African problems, alone it cannot solve the continuing African problems.

The problem of diseases expansion in Africa has been explained quite vividly by Moyo. For instance, she argues that 2.1 million African are on live saving ARVs (Moyo, 2009). The battle against HIV and AIDS has been funded largely by aid. However, it has not had any significant effect on the Africans. Surprisingly, as the aid increases, the number of people suffering from the disease has raised too. The author denotes that the number of people depending on ARVs increased from 50, 000 to 2.1 million just in a span of 5 years (Moyo, 2009). In order to solve the problem of AIDS in Africa, it would not be enough to get the financial aid. Rather, the problem can only be solved by improving health systems, training more health care workers as well as installing proper local management.

Corruption is another pertinent problem that Moyo addresses. Furthermore, it is a very serious problem in the developing and even in some developed countries. According to Moyo, foreign support causes corruption. In her arguments, she claims that corruption is not an African thing but rather is something brought by foreign aids. She bases on the fact that the foreign aids given to Africa are too fungible, which means that they are easily stolen, extracted, and redirected. Nevertheless, the help is perceived to foster corruption hurting the people of the continent (Moyo, 2009). In order to deal with the problem of corruption, the people should elect the proper government. Effective management of resources, whether from the private sector or aid, is solely determined by the quality of leadership and governance. African countries have to embrace accountability at all levels (O'Shea, 2012). For instance, these countries lack very effective bodies established and mandated with the responsibility for dealing with cases of corruption.

The conflict is another lingering problem according to Moyo.  In her book, she admits that foreign aids foment conflicts. She argues that people fight for an access to the unlimited wealth, provided by foreign help, causing unrest that possibly leads to civil wars (Moyo, 2009). Moyo continues to claim that apart from polarizing the political environment, aid significantly fosters a military culture, hence leading to conflicts (Moyo, 2009). This problem can be solved through a common understanding that peace is a responsibility of everyone. Ideally, African leaders should be the pillars of handling conflicts showing the proper level of leadership and governance. African authorities should understand that they take a responsibility for maintaining peace in the continent. They should make their followers understand the consequences of conflicts.

Poverty is another pertinent problem in Africa. The author notes that aids have helped in making the poor poorer and slowing economic growth. There is a very strong correlation between poverty and corruption (Moyo, 2009). Further, Moyo states that aid undermines and slows economic development; hence, keeping African countries in a state of poverty. For the years that African people have been provided with international aid, poverty has not been reduced. Although the foreign help may reduce the levels of poverty, it cannot eliminate it from the continent. Therefore, it is vital to empower African people to engage in productive activities including contribution to a public sector. Unfortunately, most people of the continent do not get involved in any productive activity. Empowering them can bring great changes in eliminating this problem from Africa. 

In conclusion, Moyo addresses a number of lingering problems in Africa which include corruption, poverty, diseases, and conflicts.  According to the author, the aid has played a significant role in creating and elevating the problems of the continent. So as to solve these problems, Africa needs to have powerful heath care systems, transparent leadership, governance, and empowerment rather than relying on other countries’ aids.

The Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan, officially known as the European Recovery Program (ERP), was an initiative with which the United States of America sought to help Europe rebuild itself after the World War II. The program targeted to offer aid to Europe amounting to approximately $13 billion (Weissman, 2013). The main aim of the United States was to assist in the rebuilding of the regions devastated by the war, modernizing the Industry of Europe, making the continent prosperous as it was before, and removing the existing trade barriers. Furthermore, the Marshall plan sought to prevent communism from spreading. The main requirements of the plan were based on the many existing regulations, removing or at least lessening the inter-state barriers, encouraging membership in labor unions, adopting the modern procedures in business and encouraging increased productivity. Despite the fact that Marshal Plan worked in Europe, it will not be successful in stirring development and economic stability in Africa.

Per capita was the main basis used to subdivide the aid from the Marshall Plan to the participant states. The major industrial powers in Europe received a larger amount of the aid while the wicker industrial powers received a smaller one.  The main argument was that reconstruction of the major industrial powers in Europe would ignite the revival of Europe’s economy (Weissman, 2013). However, the division of the aid was also seen to have been based on whether states were allies to the United States of whether they were parts of the Axis. As a result, the allies to the United States received a larger amount of the aid as compared to those who identified themselves with the Axis or those who were neutral in the war.  The United Kingdom was the largest beneficiary of the Marshall Plan Aid.  However, the Soviet Union refused to accept the aid as it perceived the aid as a way the United States aimed to interfere with the affairs of other countries.

The Marshall Plan significantly addressed the main obstacles to European post world war recovery.  Interestingly, the plan focused on the future instead of concentrating on the destructions resulting from the World War. American models regarded as being effective were used to modernize the business practices in Europe. Further, the plan sought to modernize the industrial power of Europe. The ERP ensured that Europe rebuilds its self- reliance and hope (Weissman, 2013). The Marshall plan can be regarded as a great success to Europe, a fact that can be attributed to the general improvements witnessed in the region. For instance, it gave a completely new impetus to the reconstruction of Europe as well as making a very significant contribution in renewing the region’s transport system.  Productivity in the region was also raised significantly as well as facilitating production and intra-region trade.

Despite the fact that the Marshall plan worked effectively for Europe, such a plan cannot be that successful in Africa. Ideally, the Marshall plan is not the way Africa needs in order to succeed, and it is not the case the continent needs to be helped to grow economically. Although the financial aid provided by the United States through the Marshall plan seems quite huge ($13 billion), the fact is that the flows did not amount to more than just three percent of each recipient’s GDP (Weissman, 2013). Thus, aid only amounted for a very small proportion of the total economy of the recipients. In Africa, however, the situation is quite different.  For instance, Africa is already flooded with foreign aid. As a whole, the continent received financial assistance and aid that almost amounts to eight percent of the total GDP. The situation is even made worse if South Africa and Nigeria are excluded from the picture. It means that Africa is already relying heavily on external aids and assistance. Therefore, the aid given by the United States to Africa can be seen as the country’s generosity rather than the help to the needy African countries.

The success of the plan in Europe can also be attributed to the fact that the aid was not long-lasting. For instance, the funds from the aid were disbursed within a period of just four years. However, aid to Africa has been long-lived, with many countries entering their fifty plus years of aids dependence (O'Shea, 2012). There is very little hope that there will be a drastic rise in Africa’s independence economically.

By analyzing the situation critically, it can be noticed that money was not the most important thing helping Europe recover. This can be attributed to the fact that by the time the aid was being disbursed, the region’s economy has started to grow. However, the restoration of finical confidence and stability, as well as the promotion of intra-continent trade, can be seen as the main benefits accorded by the plan (Weissman, 2013). In Africa, the situation is different. Financial stability and market reforms are not among the main agenda’s in the aid provided. Providing solely financial aid will not help Africa achieve economic stability.

The Marshall plan’s success in Europe resulted from the fact that the aid provided was mostly used to rebuild what had been destroyed by the war. As infrastructure and industry were quite powerful in Europe before the war, it was easier to rebuild them later. In Africa, aid is mostly channeled to the building of infrastructure and creating industries from scratch (O'Shea, 2012). Africa lacks the needed experience, a case that is quite different from the Europe as it already had a prior experience of great industries and markets. The process of building Africa is a complicated task, and no quick results can be expected.

Rather than using a Marshall plan big push kind of a model, Africa needs a more appropriate way that can significantly address the issues facing Africa. Further, the leadership of Africa needs to be transformed significantly (O'Shea, 2012). More open trade, better developmental assistance, and grater private investments are what the international community should focus on when offering support to Africa. Hence, an idealized marshal plan in Africa just sounds like an exaggeration to the value of aids. Marshall Plan is an inappropriate approach to addressing the developmental challenges facing Africa.  

In conclusion, the Marshall Plan was an initiative the United States of America sought to help Europe rebuild itself after the World War II. Although the plan was successful in Europe, it can never achieve the same level of success in Africa. Africa needs a more appropriate model that can significantly address the issues facing Africa. More open trade, better developmental assistance, and grater private investments are what the international community should focus on offering to Africa.

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