2 February 1969 |
|Alma mater||American University (BS, MBA)
Harvard University (MPA)
St Antony’s College, Oxford (DPhil)
|Known for||Economic theories on
macroeconomics, international development, global affairs
|Notable work||Dead Aid (2009)
How the West Was Lost (2011)
Winner Take All (2012)
We've reached a very low-level equilibrium where it's not clear whose interest it is in to develop Africa… It's not in the interest of those in the aid industry to develop Africa because then there'd be no more industry and 500,000 people would lose their jobs. The only people whose interest it is in is Africans, but they have no voice.
Under the all-encompassing aid system, too many places in Africa continue to flounder under inept, corrupt and despotic regimes who spend their time courting and catering to the demands of the army of aid organizations.
I am fortunate: my parents told me the world was my oyster, when they could have said I wouldn't make it for a lot of reasons – rural, girl, small African country. So, no regrets.
A constant stream of 'free' money is a perfect way to keep an inefficient or simply bad government in power. As aid flows in, there is nothing more for the government to do – it doesn't need to raise taxes, and as long as it pays the army, it doesn't have to take account of its disgruntled citizens.
This is my favourite thing about being raised in Africa: we don't do labels very well; we don't do this, 'Oh, you're a Democrat; oh, you're a Republican.' Because we live in the real world.
I went into the sciences very early on, but to me, economics pervades so much more of our lives and our existence.
Many Africans succumb to the idea that they can't do things because of what society says. Images of Africa are negative – war, corruption, poverty. We need to be proud of our culture.
A nascent economy needs a transparent and accountable government and an efficient civil service to help meet social needs. Its people need jobs and a belief in their country's future. A surfeit of aid has been shown to be unable to help achieve these goals.
At its very best, the Western model speaks for itself. It's the model that put food on the table. It's the refrigerators. It put a man on the moon.
I have dedicated many years to economic study, up to the Ph.D. level, to analyze and understand the inherent weaknesses of aid and why aid policies have consistently failed to deliver on economic growth and poverty alleviation.
The most obvious criticism of aid is its links to rampant corruption. Aid flows destined to help the average African end up supporting bloated bureaucracies in the form of the poor-country governments and donor-funded non-governmental organizations.
This is a great continent. I went to primary school on this continent, secondary school, university. I've worked on this continent, and I think that it's a great disservice that, for whatever reason, people have usurped an imagery of Africa that is absolutely incorrect.
The insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment.
Too many African countries have already hit rock-bottom – ungoverned, poverty-stricken, and lagging further and further behind the rest of the world each day; there is nowhere further to go down.
The people I admire unreservedly are my parents. They are the real pioneers of Africa in many ways. They were born and raised in rural Africa during the colonial period. They are the ones who came to the U.S. long before I did.
I don't think my background in Zambia has really affected my lens because my classical training has been Western-style. But it's fantastically fortuitous to have been born African because I don't feel I have a vested interest to the U.S. or China or wherever.
The fact of the matter is that instead of going around the world and haranguing countries for engaging with China, the West should be encouraging its own businesses to trade and invest in these regions.
Thanks to aid, a distressing number of African leaders care little about what their citizens want or need – after all it's the reverse of the Boston tea-party – no representation without taxation.
I had the good fortune to spend hours with my parents around the dinner table having debates on politics and economics.
I was born and raised in Zambia in 1969. At the time of my birth, blacks were not issued birth certificates, and that law only changed in 1973.
My mother is chairman of a bank called the Indo-Zambia Bank. It's a joint venture between Zambia and India. My father runs Integrity Foundation, an anticorruption organization.
There's not a single country that actually approaches economics in a pure, free market, capitalist way. I like the free market – but it very much exists only in textbooks. If I had a choice, and we could live in a very pure world, I would be a supporter of the free markets.
'Dead Aid' is about the inefficacy and the limitations of large-scale aid programs in creating economic growth and reducing poverty in Africa.
I was initially very interested in public policy, but then after my masters at Harvard, I felt that it was important to get a better handle on the economics of it as well. I did my Ph.D. in macroeconomics, and my thesis – 'Why Is It That Some Countries Save And Others Not?' – was on savings.
I wish we questioned the aid model as much as we are questioning the capitalism model. Sometimes the most generous thing you can do is just say no.
The notion that aid can alleviate systemic poverty, and has done so, is a myth. Millions in Africa are poorer today because of aid; misery and poverty have not ended but increased. Aid has been, and continues to be, an unmitigated political, economic, and humanitarian disaster for most parts of the developing world.
I would say issues around human rights – either you're going to take a hard stance, or you're not. You can't borrow money from China the way the U.S. has done and then turn around and say, 'But you've got a human-rights problem.' You can't be half pregnant.
China is attempting the death-defying feat, which no one has attempted in the history of the world, which is to move a billion people out of poverty. When I speak to Chinese policy-makers, the thing that annoys them the most about Western policy-makers is that they're not given any credit for anything.
The western mindset erroneously equates a political system of multi-party democracy with high-quality institutions… the two are not synonymous.
I'll make a general comment about this whole dependence on 'celebrities.' I object to this situation as it is right now, where they have inadvertently or manipulatively become the spokespeople for the African continent.
If I go to Singapore, I have friends there. If they came to Zambia, they'd feel the same way. I've made connections, and I have friends in many, many countries.
There are tons of examples of U.K. and European mistakes. A classic one is pensions. That's obviously not an America-specific thing. The British and European economies are suffering under the weight of what is to come. The next great Ponzi scheme after Madoff is probably pensions.