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Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo

Dead Aid is a 150 page book with a 24 page bibliography - so it reads more like a long white paper than a book. Dambisa Moyo has an impressive resume, much alluded to in both the book jacket and the foreword by Niall Ferguson. The author has worked for the World Bank and Goldman Sachs and she has a PhD from Oxford University. Impressive no doubt. Even more impressive is the fact that she was born and raised in Zambia so her profile fits neatly into the "Solutions to Africa's problems by Africans" paradigm.

The book itself makes its case almost clinically, backed up by statistics and research papers from an entire spectrum of economists. Dead Aid is divided in two sections, The World of Aid, which examines the 'aid-economy', the players and the harmful affects on African countries' dependence on western aid. The second section, A World Without Aid proposes several venues open to the developing countries in Africa to raise money and be independent - the most important being trade and raising capital from the markets. Ms. Moyo manages to connect a lot of different African ailments to aid, from corruption to dictatorship and she makes a convincing case. Her solutions make sense as well - at least to a strong believer in free trade like myself. The hopelessness of it all is that it is almost impossible to imagine the West will roll back its Aid of Africa model that has failed so consistently and for so long.

The book's main weakness is that it makes for almost dreary reading. Ms. Moyo may be a brainy economist, she is not a writer. The book suffers from a dearth of wit and style. The author does try to indulge in a hypothetical by creating the composite African country of Dongo and examinig how the country may funciton if her suggestions were realized. But in the end her vision reads less like a fully realized painting and more like a stick figure drawing. I recommend reading the book, only because it serves as a starting point for examining the issue of tackling the many problems of the African continent.

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