At the Jepson Leadership Forum economist Dambisa Moyo, named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world for 2009, discusses her book Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa. In it she unflinchingly confronts what she sees as one of the greatest myths of our time and argues that foreign aid to Africa be phased out and replaced with innovative ways to finance development and encourage fair trade. Nov. 16, 2009
Dambisa Moyo is an international economist and New York Times best-selling author of Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way For Africa, published in 2009.
Moyo’s second book entitled How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices that Lie Ahead is scheduled for publication in February 2011.
Moyo was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. She holds a Doctorate (DPhil) in Economics from Oxford University. In 1997, Moyo earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA) in International Development from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She also earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Chemistry from American University in Washington D.C. She worked for the World Bank as a Consultant and atGoldman Sachs where she worked in the debt capital markets and as an economist in the global macroeconomics team.
Awards and Memberships
In May 2009, TIME Magazine named Moyo as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
In September 2009 Moyo was featured in Oprah Winfrey’s power list of 20 remarkable visionaries.
In 2010, Dambisa Moyo was a participant at the Bilderberg Conference. In 2009, she was honoured by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders..
She also serves on the board of Barclays Bank, SABMiller and Lundin Petroleum.
She has done numerous speaking engagements at organizations including: OECD, World Bank, IMF, Council on Foreign Relations, American Enterprise Institute and the 2009 Munk Debates as well as most of the G7 countries. In 2009 she spoke at the TEDx conference at the EU Parliament.
She is a regular contributor to financial journals such as The Economist and Financial Times and has appeared as a guest on networks such as CNN, CNBC, BBC and Fox Business.
Moyo is a Patron of Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), a hedge fund supported children’s charity, and serves on the Board of directors of Room to Read, a non-profit that provides educational opportunities to local communities in the developing world.
Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa argues that foreign aid has harmed Africa and that it should be phased out. It became a New York Times bestseller. It is published in Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese and Dutch.
The book offers proposals for developing countries to finance development, instead of relying on foreign aid. Moyo has stated that her arguments are based on those made by pro-market economists like Peter Bauer (to whom the book is dedicated) and, later, William Easterly. The Financial Times summarized the book’s argument: “Limitless development assistance to African governments, she argues, has fostered dependency, encouraged corruption and ultimately perpetuated poor governance and poverty.” She argues that foreign aid helps perpetuate the cycle of poverty and hinders economic growth in Africa.
Harvard professor and historian Niall Ferguson wrote the foreword to Dead Aid. Quotes by the Chairman and CEO of Forbes, Steve Forbes, appear on the book jacket as well as by former United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan who says “Dambisa Moyo makes a compelling case for a new approach to Africa”.
Moyo’s ideas are similar to those held by the Rwandan Government and President Paul Kagame. He says that “Dead Aid has given us an accurate evaluation of the aid culture today”. Kagame also invited Moyo to Rwanda to discuss her thesis and bought copies of the book for his entire cabinet. The President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade has also expressed similar views on aid.
The thesis has also been noted by the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Speaking at a China-Africa Cooperation summit in Egypt, he said “I have read a book titled Dead Aid written by Dambisa Moyo. The author talks about her personal experiences and draws the conclusion that China’s assistance to Africa is sincere, credible, practical and efficient and is welcomed by the African people. I am confident that time will prove that friendship and cooperation between the Chinese and African people has a bright future.”
Criticisms of Dead Aid
Center for Global Development economist Owen Barder argues that even if some aid is harmful, Moyo does not consider options for improving it, to secure the benefits of aid without the disadvantages. There is less systematic evidence in favour of her proposed alternatives – microfinance and bonds – than the aid which she criticises (though there is evidence of the benefits of trade, which she also advocates).
In a book review, economist Paul Collier calls Moyo’s analysis “over-optimistic” in that “She implies that, were aid cut, African governments would respond by turning to other sources of finance that would make them more accountable.” According to Collier, “this exaggerates the opportunity for alternative finance and underestimates the difficulties African societies face.” 
The pro-aid organization ONE has claimed that Dead Aid is “reckless” and that it calls to “cut-off all aid”. Moyo points out in a number of interviews that this is a misrepresentation of her ideas and theFinancial Times notes that ONE’s campaign “at least partially backfired”.
The Keynesian economist Jeffrey Sachs has said more foreign aid is needed to improve conditions for Africa but Moyo points out that when Sachs was her lecturer at Harvard it was he himself who taught that “the path to long-term development would only be achieved through private sector involvement and free market solutions”.
How The West Was Lost
Moyo’s second book entitled How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices that Lie Ahead is scheduled for publication with Penguin and Farrar, Straus & Giroux in February 2011.
The book offers a bold account of the decline of the economic supremacy of the West over the past 50 years. In particular, Dambisa Moyo examines how America’s flawed decisions and blinkered policies choices around Capital, Labour and Technology – key ingredients for economic growth and success- have resulted in an economic and geo-political seesaw that is now poised to tip in favour of the emerging world.
- Moyo, Dambisa (2011). How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices that Lie Ahead. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0374173257. (forthcoming February 2011)
- Moyo, Dambisa (2009). Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0374139563.
- Financial Times (Jan 30th 2010): The Diary: Dambisa Moyo”
- The Economist (Nov 13th 2009): “The lure of Africa: Bond markets will discover its attractions”
- Financial Times (Jun 1st 2009): “Little appetite to question the aid-based status quo”
- Foreign Policy (Apr 21st 2009): “The Next Big Thing: Africa”
- Wall Street Journal (Mar 21st 2009): “Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa”
- Financial Times (Feb 28th 2009): “The Diary: Dambisa Moyo”
- The Guardian (Feb 26th 2009): “Capitalism for Africa”
- Financial Times (Jan 30th 2009): “Lunch with the FT: Dambisa Moyo”