Via Megan, this post at Friends of Ethiopia echoes some of my own thinking. Consider, for a moment, the frankly devastating impact on American manufacturing of WalMart’s ability and willingness to dump tons of cheap Chinese crap onto the market. Now imagine the effect it would have if that crap was actually free. Our industrial, technological, and retail sectors would be annihilated.
This is essentially what NGOs are doing in Africa: dumping tons and tons of free stuff into the African economy, destroying in the process any incentive for the Africans to produce anything themselves.
That said, I’m not especially sanguine about Africa’s prospects under any scenario. The people I know who have lived in Africa tell me that Africa is the place where nothing works, and NGO policy isn’t going to change that.
Candidly, I’m not especially upset about this. Seeing as how elite opinion watches indifferently the slow-motion ethnic cleansing of African whites in South Africa and the fast-motion ethnic cleansing of whites in Zimbabwe, I can’t think of a reason why I should care one way or the other about the fate of the non-white Africans. But for those who do, this should be something to think about.