Is foreign aid Africa’s blessing or curse?

Friday November 8 2019


By Duncan Kabiito

Uganda is one of the world’s top foreign aid recipients. According to data from the US Foreign Aid, by 2017, Uganda was ranked the 10th top recipient of aid with about $600m all in economic aid.

Foreign aid, especially when there is a lot of it, affects how institutions function and how they change. Therefore, we must begin to think differently about foreign aid in Africa.

We should stop looking at foreign aid/assistance with a rudimentary perspective that the world is full of benevolent individuals who find it aesthetic to lift Africa from the imbroglio she finds herself today.

The reality is that the poverty of Africa is the glory of some civilisations. Permit me to refer you to the Oxford Dictionary - foreign aid means help that is given by a richer country to a poorer one. I would like to pose two edgy questions: The first one is, does foreign aid play an imperative or a peripheral role in Africa’s quest for economic growth and development? Secondly, is reducing foreign aid a blessing in disguise or a curse?

We must rethink the manner in which foreign aid is administered to us following the coherent demeanour in which society benefits from this aid even when it gets extinct.

Formerly, the US Federal Budget accounted up to 20 per cent of foreign assistance to Africa, with top beneficiaries like South Sudan, Kenya and Egypt. However, when President Donald Trump came to power, he chopped it to one per cent following his intent to make America great again. Truly, this is perhaps something good for Africa in order to reduce paternalism and promote partnership.


According to Greg Mills in his book, Why is Africa Poor?, he carefully states that Africa is not poor because of aid per se, although large inflows of foreign aid have almost certainly been a disincentive to reform for many African governments.

Many schools of thought may be identified, but the one I belong to believes that official assistance is ineffective and, therefore has harmed developing economies over the past years.
This basically concentrates on the fact that foreign assistance fosters dependency, corruption and plays a big role in encouraging currency devaluation.

Just in 2012, the Prime Minister’s office was found to have unaccounted for $13m, forcing donors to withhold their support. It is on this note that I argue that African governments need to reduce foreign aid to scale up policies that can spur creating an enabling environment and the best of all, African countries should engage in integrations.

Just as the saying goes that you cannot win the lottery unless you buy the ticket, Africa can do better and we must do it.
Duncan Kabiito,