Zambian economist accused by Bill Gates of promoting 'evil' fires back
Dambisa Moyo. (Harper Collins handout)
On Wednesday, it was Bill Gates calling out China.
A day later, it's a fuming Dambisa Moyo calling out Gates.
Gates is in Australia, and has made headlines over the past few days for
challenging China to increase the amount of money it commits to international
aid. Its current expenditure, Gates says, is "modest."
Moyo, meantime, is among Africa's most visible economic critics.
In her first book,
Dead Aid, published in 2009, Moyo condemned foreign aid to Africa, suggesting it
helps foster corruption and a sense of dependence and discourages
But Gates is a huge proponent of aid.
Cue the clash of personalities.
I interviewed Moyo last July and today she emailed to say that Gates in a
Q&A period in Australia told an audience that she "promotes evil" and doesn't "know much
"Such attacks add no value
in the important discussions on the challenges the world faces to deliver
economic growth, eradicate poverty, combat disease, and reduce income
inequality, to name a few."
A video posted on YouTube shows Gates answering a question about Moyo's book.
"The number of children dying in africa over past 20 years has been cut in half," Gates said, adding that Moyo's book, which he read, "actually did damage generosity of first world countries.
"I found that she didn't know much about aid, what aid is doing. She is an aid critic. It's moralistically a tought position to take.. books like that, they're promoting evil."
Moyo answers Gates' criticism that she doesn't know much about aid by
highlighting both her resume--she has been a consultant to the World Bank--and
first-hand knowledge that comes from being born and raised in Zambia, one of the
poorest aid-recipients in the world.
"I wrote Dead
Aidto contribute to a useful debate on why, over many decades, multi
billions of dollars of aid has consistently failed to deliver sustainable
economic growth and meaningfully reduce poverty," Moyo says. "I also sought to
explicitly explain how decades of government to government aid actually
undermined economic growth and contributed to worsening living conditions across
"More than this, I clearly detailed better ways for African leaders, and
governments across the world, to finance economic development. I have been under
the impression that Mr. Gates and I want the same thing – for the livelihood of
Africans to be meaningfully improved in a sustainable way. Thus, I have always
thought there is significant scope for a mature debate about the efficacy and
limitations of aid. To say that my book “promotes evil” or to allude to my
corrupt value system is both inappropriate and disrespectful."
Rick Westhead is a foreign
affairs writer at the Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South
Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on
international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead
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