African Aid… a study in inefficiency
OK… maybe I am not going to actually do a study… most of my data is allegoric (from stories). But it is a reality that Aid to Africa is not efficient for many reasons that are solvable.
When aid is given with strings attached such as the mandated use of the donor counties personnel or equipment and supplies then it is not aid to Africa it is aid to the Donor Countries’ manufacturing or consulting firms. Expert costs can be triple or even quadruple the cost of the same services in the Donor Countries because of travel, housing (to the donor countries standards) and high salaries of Donor country employees sent to Africa.
I have traveled to Africa frequently and have been in approximately 20 countries in the continent. While Greed, fraud and corruption do exist, it is the cost of goods and services that donor countries provide that takes a great deal of the AID that is supposedly given. Cash sent to most African Countries is subject to redistribution because of other more pressing needs. And sometimes the Strings on the aid have profound negative effects on other parts of the recipient African Countries economy and existing farming or manufacturing enterprises. There is an article in this blog about Namibia and Angola and the Cattle ranching that has been devastated by some of those strings to aid there.
I understand that Donor Countries want to try and maximize benefits to their domestic enterprises when giving aid… but competition for those aid funds can significantly reduce costs and maximize the benefit of the AID to the recipient countries.
Let me move to a different part of this issue… the raising of funds for Aid Organizations. Former President Bill Clinton has stated (paraphrased) that if there was profit to be made in solving global poverty then there would be no global poverty…. But that statement is based upon a false premise… that global poverty can be solved… I am adamant on this.. GLOBAL POVERTY CANNOT BE SOLVED…. Not in my life time… and not even in this century… poverty will always be with us as long as we are a society that functions on money… someone will always be at the bottom of the scale and hence we will always have poverty. This is a fact of life that cannot be dismissed out of hand. (Please note I am not tackling the issue of the measurement of poverty or its definition at this time… maybe later)
What we can do is significantly reduce poverty by revamping and reorganizing the AID that is given and the manner in which it is given.
People think that AID is free… it is not… every aid organization has to raise funds.. that take time, personnel and money… however we can make guidelines on how much of the aid given is actually used for those ongoing fund raising and strategizing efforts as well as the Organizations basic operations and expenses.. For this I am in favor of a sliding scale ranging from 3.5% to 20% depending on the total amount raised per year. This is not include the actual administration of the project (for which I feel not more than 20 % should be allocated to non-resident administration of the ACTUAL Project)
From personal experience:
I have been forming a new NGO (Non-Government Organization) and NPO (Not for Profit Organization) called the Africa Genesis Project. The mission is to “rehabilitate” the sub Saharan “trade routs” in this region. The studies have already been done showing the benefit in trade for the respective countries (a cost benefit analysis). But it does not even begin to show the increase in employment, local economies and the attraction to FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) that would accompany such a project.
The Cost for this is fast approaching 50 BILLION US Dollars. Is that a lot of money?? Yes it is… but in comparison to the 60 Billion dollars in aid for AIDS in Africa than this is smaller and brings more advantages (in my opinion) and allows the aid for AIDS to be delivered more effectively and efficiently to a greater number of people. I agree with the need for AIDS assistance… but I also know that the people of Africa need more.When it costs only 1,000 dollars to send a container to a Kenya Port but 10,000 dollars to take it inland at twice the time and takes 5 days to repair the truck afterwards,… this is an abomination and the extra costs are something the Africans cannot afford.
Roads bring JOBS, and jobs bring economic prosperity and that in turn brings peace and stability to Africa!!!
But how can we raise such amount of funds for the overall rehabilitation of Africa?? If ANYONE expects that Africa can finance this with its current economic situation and with the Debt that it already has, then that person is not fathoming the realities of the condition of Africa and worse is dismissing the prolonged suffering of hundreds of millions of people in Africa. Further it has allowed countries like China to take advantage of this situation to give “no string” loans that continue to exacerbate the problems in Africa.
The ONLY way to really help Africa is one MASSIVE injection of Aid that can transform most of Africa into a productive society. That aid can ONLY come from Governments around the world. That raises a major problem in how to even start such a fund raising effort to implement this project.
My calculations indicate I need 50 million dollars to START this project and 500 Million Dollars to continue to promote and administer the Africa genesis Project over 7 years.
Why so much?? One word answer… POLITICS!!!
I cannot even get an appointment with my own congressional or senate representative in the United States to present this project… and the form in which I presented is not in “proper form” with the relevant brochures and packages needed to promote such a massive project. Multiply that effort with my need to approach the governments of the United Kingdom, France and the rest of the EU, Japan. Australia, Canada, and the Middle East as well as many other countries, (as this is a global issue requiring a global solution) then you start to see not only the massive size of the Africa Project in Rehabilitating these trade routes, but the Global Efforts needed to see it though. And the ONLY way is to hire (at a significant cost) “Consultants” (lobbyists) who can effectively get this project into the hands of those who can make it happen in their respective Governments.
The Africa genesis Project will Guarantee that 96% of ALL money raised for the project will be spent directly on the project and not on fundraising, promotion or administrative expenses of the organization itself. Further that NO Distribution will be to any government organization UNLESS that Organization has actually performed or is performing real work on this roads project. Simply ONLY those actually working on the Road Project will be paid and 80 percent of ALL work must be by Local African Companies and using African employees.
We realize that a lot of Equipment must be purchased for this project. It is expected that Caterpillar and John Deer will receive about 500 million dollars each for equipment and spare part orders… HOWEVER WE MUST be able to negotiate process to reduce costs and maximize benefits to AFRICA. We will NOT tolerate paying even list, let alone OVER list as Caterpillar and John Deer have indicated in my limited discussions with them. The same for every other manufacture and supplier of other equipment, materials and supplies… COSTS will be PARAMOUNT in our vigilance to assure that this work can be done UNDER BUDGET. It is though our “lobbying” efforts that we will make sure that any “strings” attached to the aid given by donor countries for domestic purchases allow us to make bidding and negotiations fair practice in our efforts to supply this project. We cannot allow unfair profits (windfalls) to accrue to anyone on the backs of Africa and its people.
And yes, even I need to get paid, as I am not independently wealthy. So for those of you questioning that, I assure you I am NOT working for free and expect compensation that is reasonable for a project of this size. However I will note that I already know that there are many problems and issues that will need to be addressed on a project this size that will NOT be in the budget … hence my “compensation” will mostly be used for the resolution of those issues and to support the Africa Genesis Organization in its endeavors. Fist Aide Stations, water well drilling, education assistance and the like are just some of those things that are NOT in the Budget for this project and need to be taken care of but NOT from the 96% of the funds that were donated and are to be used ONLY for the Road rehabilitation project as already identified.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you know I have proposed creating a “backbone” infrastructure project that would transverse Africa as well as circumnavigate the Entire Continent, that would end up being approximately 70,000 Kilometers in length. This “backbone would have a 4 to 6 lane modern highway, an Electric Power line transmission, a railroad, and Fiber Optics and Oil and Gas and water pipelines, ALL TO BE FINANCED AND OPERATED BY PRIVATE (non governmental) INVESTMENT. This Investment could approach 1 trillion dollars over 10 to 15 years.
My plans for Africa my be grandiose to some… but a real vision was needed to solidify the continent for economic, and political and peace issues and the overall heath and welfare of the people of Africa… this is my mission… to transform Africa into a place where aid is not needed as much as it is now, and to improve the human sprit of all Africans.