Continent wide figures for foreign direct investment so far this year are not available. But in the sub-Saharan African countries, the International Monetary Fund estimates, foreign direct investment will drop roughly 18 percent in 2009 from about $30 billion in 2008.
It’s nice to see the mainstream media focus on something other than the impact of the crisis on aid – FDI is a much more important player in development in general. This quote says it all:
â€śInstead of talking to Usaid, Iâ€™d rather be talking to a company like Nike,â€ť Mr. Barnes said. â€śHaving a partner like that means jobs and economic growth, and you just donâ€™t get that from aid.â€ť
Not sure I like the title of the piece though: “Just when Africa’s Luck Was Changing” suggests that Africa’s future is driven by luck (or by the outside world). It’s not.
Through Aid Watch I stumbled upon this excellent article in the Huffington post by Senegalese businesswoman Magatte Wade. She tackles the implicit condescension in ventures like Jeffrey Sach’s Millennium Village project, slyly comparing it to “polite” racism she experienced in France. The main subject of her wrath is a cultural enrichment tour group organised by New Dawn Associates, a group of academics who take foreigners on guided tours around the Millennium Village. Wade fishes out some slightly perturbing recommendations made in the NDA brochure, including:
Please do not give anything to the villagers – no sweets, cookies, empty water bottles, pens or even money.
Please do not eat or drink in public. Many people in the Bugesera District are still suffering from malnutrition, and the public consumption of food or drinks is against the culture of the area.
Firstly, as Easterly points out: if this is one of the holy Millenium Villages, why are people still starving? Secondly, do these statements sound familiar? (Please do not feed the animals). The whole venture smacks deeply of a new, dasterdly form of poverty porn: the poverty safari! You too, from the safety of your 4×4, can get to experience the overwhelming poverty of the Rwandan people, only to escape back to your hotel in the evening.
Easterly is unsurprisingly outraged. This sounds like another case of good intentions gone awry. However, is this truly a case of a bunch of Western academics viewing Africans as cardboard cutouts? An actual visit to the NDA website reveals that most of the staff and the entire top management are actually African. Does this lend this venture any more cred? I really don’t know.
The Wade article from which all this sprung is quite a good read and can be found here.
UPDATE: Hmm, the NDA website seems to have inverted since I first looked at it. The top staff are now all white foreigners. The head is Dr. Michael Grosspietsch, who has responded to Bill Easterly here.