Rwanda wants a life without aid
By NRC Handelsblad in partnership with RNW
March 6, 2009
Rwanda has expressed the desire to do without Western development aid. If the country decides to take that road, it will be the first African country to turn down aid. Rwandan President Paul Kagame approached Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo about the issue, after reading her call to stop development aid to Africa because it has failed to produce economic growth and reduce poverty throughout the continent.
In her book Dead Aid, Moyo provides recommendations on how African countries can balance their budgets without development aid. Dr Moyo studied at Harvard, obtained her doctorate from Oxford and spent eight years in London working for US corporate bank Goldman Sachs.
Phase out aidIn Rwanda, the economist spoke to the president and a wide range of ministers, ambassadors and senior officials. "Imagine", she writes in her book, "that one by one the countries of Africa receive a phone call from donor countries saying we will phase out the aid over a period of five years." Dr Moyo describes how one of the president's right-hand men responded "We want to be the ones to make that call."
At the end of February, the Rwandan government went on retreat to the Serena Hotel Kivu in Gisenyi to review its national development strategy. Western diplomats confirm that the scaling back of development aid was high on the agenda. Rwanda has already asked America for help investing in government bonds.
Loss of dignityRwanda's president has regularly expressed criticism of development aid. He is tired of being browbeaten by Western countries. As he sees it, dependence on foreign aid results in a loss of dignity, undermines innovation and stifles enterprise.
Dambisa Moyo estimates that Rwanda relies on aid for 70 percent of its government expenditure. Western diplomats put that figure at a more modest 50 percent. This represents a sum of 800 million dollars a year, to which the Netherlands makes an annual contribution of 27.5 million.
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