AFRICA’S robust economic growth over the past decade has raised hopes the world’s poorest continent can reduce its reliance on aid.
The problem with this scenario is its failure to consider the role aid may be playing in the “Africa Rising” narrative.
Looking for a link between aid and growth, an unmistakable pattern emerges from the numbers.
World Bank data shows foreign donor aid to Africa from the OECD group of wealthy countries was just under US$13 billion in 2000 and soared to US$41 billion in 2006, and then slipped, before rebounding and hitting over US$46 billion in 2011.
Net official development assistance per capita was just US$19,50 in 2000 and almost tripled to a peak of US$53,29 in 2006. It then declined, but in 2011 was back just below US$53.
Other sources suggest different, though similar, numbers.
Chinese official inflows also surged during this period, though much of this was credit support or “oil-backed loans” and would not count as aid by the OECD definitions, according to AidData, a research initiative tracking over US$5,5 trillion in development finance from over 90 donors, including China.
The first decade of this century saw a concerted effort to boost western aid to Africa, marked by anti-poverty campaigns headed by celebrities such as Irish rocker Bono, which featured debt forgiveness on a large scale and other initiatives.
It was also the decade when African growth took off.
From 2001 to 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies were in Africa: Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique and Rwanda.