- By Elizabeth DickinsonElizabeth Dickinson is author of the Kindle Single Who Shot Ahmed? A Mystery Unravels in Bahrain's Botched Arab Spring, from which this excerpt was adapted. She is a former FP assistant managing editor.
Writing in the Financial Times today, Rwandan President Paul Kagame makes a strong case against the “aid regime” as we know it. “The cycle of aid and poverty is durable: as long as poor nations are focused on receiving aid they will not work to improve their economies,” he writes. He’s piping in on a debate sparked by recent FP contributor Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid, which argues that Africa’s prosperity begins when the inflow of aid ends:
“Some of Ms Moyo’s prescriptions, such as ending all aid within five years, are aggressive. But I always thought this was the discussion we should be having: when to end aid and how best to end it.”
At first glance, this argument — coming from Kagame — strikes me as odd. Rwanda, and the president in particular, has garnered a reputation as a “darling” of Western donors over the last decade. Today, about 50 percent of the country’s budget comes from foreign aid. And the number could rise. Last week, the country announced a funding gap of $47.4 million for its 2009/2010 budget, thanks to falling exports amid the global financial crisis. Where will that money come from? “[I]f Rwanda does not receive adequate grants, the ministry said, the balance of payments deficit could widen to $251.5 million,” Reuters reports.
Then again, it’s both fantastic and unsurprising to hear Kagame promising to wean his country from development aid — through savy business ventures and smart economic policy. In fact, that’s what the president has already started to do, and it’s the reason that many consider Rwanda the emerging Singapore of Sub-Saharan Africa. The example is one to follow — and not just in the developing world.
Either way, Kagame’s move is bold. His op-ed in the FT opens his governance and his country up to scrutiny, based on the standard he himself has set:
“No one should pretend that they care about our nations more than we do; or assume that they know what is good for us better than we do ourselves. They should, in fact, respect us for wanting to decide our own fate.”
Let’s hope he decides well.
PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images
John Hudson is a staff writer for Foreign Policy where he chases down stories from Foggy Bottom to the White House, the Pentagon to Embassy Row. Between 2009 and 2012, John covered politics and global affairs for The Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August War between Russia and Georgia for Salon.com and other news outlets. Over the years, he's dug up resignation-causing FEC documents; unmasked world-famous Internet trolls; exposed bizarre Photoshopping by government media; and revealed a secret Iranian military facility. John's weakness is cold craft beer from his birthplace of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He's appeared on MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, and other broadcast outlets.| The Cable |