An interesting opinion piece in the Times today from Tony Blair (available on his website for free).
In characteristically upbeat assessment, he says it is time to put the old stereotypes about Africa behind us. There are now 23 democracies in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to three in 1989. In eight of the past ten years the growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa has been higher than East Asia.
He’s also positive about the role that aid is playing in bringing about this revolution. In particular, the dropping of debt, which he says has freed governments to focus on providing good public services.
There’ll be some who will be critical of what Tony Blair writes.
Some people think that the West is supporting very dodgy ‘democracies’ in Africa.
Some say that Chinese investment in Africa (which Blair points out will be greater this year than the World Bank’s investment) is simply the latest wave of imperialism to hit Africa.
Others argue that aid is just increasing Africa’s dependency, and letting African governments off paying their debts just increases the ‘moral hazard’ that they’ll run them up again (see my earlier post about Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo’s book, ‘Dead Aid’).
What do you think? Is Blair right to be as optimistic as he is? Do you think it’s time to ditch the image of Africa as a passive beneficiary? Or is he being naive?