If you have been wondering where I have disappeared to lately, blame Africa. Or rather, blame the Expository Writing class that has required me to produce a 10 page research paper on foreign aid in Africa. To give you a better idea of my life over the past month, I have decided to post all 11 pages (including the full bibliography) on here.
Part of my class assignment was to shrink my paper into a 350 word editorial answering the question, Will giving foreign aid to Africa solve the problem of government corruption? It is understandably brief and not very well developed; however, I hope you will enjoy a glimpse of my attempt to synthesize and solve part of the problem of corruption in Africa!
Only If You Hate Africa
Foreign aid increases corruption within African governments. While every country has it at some level, corruption is particularly devastating to third world nations with unstable governments and economies. A government is the bedrock of a country, but when that government is corrupt, citizens no longer have security. Justice is purchasable, foreign relations become exploitation, and public goods are treated like personal property by government officials. Aid feeds corruption by creating increased incentives for it. Foreign governments pour money into unstable countries; however, the aid rarely reaches its intended recipient. In Somalia, 2/3rds of all aid sent was “lost” and $840,000 in aid was diverted to the Somali branch of the Al Qaeda. In Equatorial Guinea, foreign aid in the form of measles vaccines were confiscated and sold outside of the country by government officials. These are two of many instances of government corruption interfering with aid.
Unfortunately, the current system does not solve the issue. Billions of dollars are poured into these African countries with little impact. Despite tying for last place for government corruption, Somalia received 1.1 billion in Humanitarian aid in 2011. Aid in any form is insignificant and harmful without a stable, transparent government.
The most frequent solution has been trade embargos from governments like the United States to promote transparency in their African trading partners. However, trade embargos are often ineffective; there is a lack of international solidarity. Historically, when the United States has leveled a trade embargo on corrupt government, China has come in and traded with them.
Like aid, this option only solves the external problem within Africa. Corruption is an internal part of government life in these countries. To make a true difference, the fight must be internal. Foreign governments can promote this, however, by making corruption a global fight. Organizations like the United Nations need to prevent China from trading when a country has an embargo on it. Awareness must be armed with action. By creating an alliance between donor and recipient, the first and third world division is lessened and corruption can be tackled internally with the support of the international community.