When President Paul Kagame recently commended China’s aid policy in Africa, many were quick to jump to conclusions.
For many decades, aid that poured into the so-called Third World, Africa in particular, was not a panacea, but an addictive drug that had adverse consequences.
The Billions that were poured in, either ended up in the pockets of a few corrupt leaders, or found its way back to the source in the form of inflated and disproportionate expatriate salaries.
Many donor countries set conditions that instead of improving the livelihoods of the recipients, dragged them deeper into destitution. Aid dependence stripped them of their dignity and delegated them to moving around with begging bowls.
China’s approach is different because its’ aid is in the form of infrastructure and skills development that allow recipients to learn how to fish instead of getting the fillet on a platter.
Surely, can one condemn building roads so that the hard-working farmer eking a living off his land can take his produce to the market? If trade flourishes and the farmer’s living conditions improve, it will translate into better health and financial independence.
But if the donor proposed an agricultural project to improve the farmer’s produce, yet there is no logistical means to reach the market, it would be money poured down the drain, or in the expatriates’ pockets.
One should not turn away a helping hand, but should be wary of a bone-crushing grip.