Dr. Johannes Michael Nebe sets up since 1997 at the University of Trier an Africa major. Since 2011 he is associate lecturer in development policy and cooperation (Photo: University of Trier).

Too much money, too little help. " Africa doesn’t need billions"

"Who really wants to help Africa shouldn’t do this with money.” This meanwhile already famous sentence from the Kenyan economist James Shikwati polarizes and boosts the debate about a meaningful development policy for the so-called Third World. One side is increasingly frustrated that 50 years of development aid brought no tangible improvements for the people in the affected regions. The opposite position claims more billions because they think that they may this way leverage to the better. The political scientist, Johannes Michael Nebe, from the University of Trier has decades of experience. He believes that development aid has provided less blessing than prejudice.


n-tv.de: Mr. Nebe, the Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda wrote: "The reason for the persistence of poverty in my country is the development aid itself". From your publications I hear a similar stance ...

Johannes Michael Nebe: Sorry  to interrupt you straightaway, but this stance, as brought forward by James Shikwati and Andrew Mwenda, is taken by a number of renowned political economists, whose critical voices are growing louder. Among them, for example, also the Zambian financial expert, Dambisa Moyo, that also ascribes the reason for the African lag to the misguided development aid. The list of those saying that more help reinforces the chaos, is indefinitely long. This unsparing criticism of the extremely high helpfulness of the West should provide enough opportunity to reflect on the never-ending flow of money.

Does that mean that dozens of aid organizations are wrong? What about the NGOs with Care, Oxfam, the relief actions of the churches like Brot für die Welt and Mise-reor, what about the pop stars like Bob Geldof or Bono, and the millions of the German government?

Exactly! That's what it is! In recent decades, a veritable aid industry has emerged. The gifts of money in the billions have created new dependencies and - I say this deliberately - behold not least their own benefit in the help.

What opportunities are given to the African countries themselves in order to realize their vision of development?

Virtually none. Development aid experts don’t look enough into the particular social structures and ethnic situation in an African multi-ethnic state and into their different cultures and traditions in order to sensibly adapt a development strategy. In addition, the presentee are really spoiled and urged not to take themselves anything into their own hands. Own responsibility and creative will of African governments remain so under-developed, because every problem finds at least a donor from the western world, who tries to solve it. Tasks that actually have to be performed by the state are then barely perceived by it. State innovation propensity and own initiative wither in this way.

The above-cited critics of development aid are surely not alone. Is there no new generation in the African countries that supports these positions and curbs the old?

Yes, there is. I call it the "cheetah generation", which is mainly composed of dedicated, well-educated, courageous and mostly young people who favor a different style of politics and want to assume responsibility for the society. Their fields of activity are in most cases civil society organizations that look after peace and development and progressively form the political spine of their respective countries. They are the contrary of the "hippopotamus generation", which designates the corrupt, over-aged and sedate old politician generation that is only interested in maintaining power for their political sinecures.

Future development aid should therefore deliberately bypass the "hippos" and create a new concept of society with the help of the "cheetah".

The findings from the last 50 years must be that the development policy and development cooperation take place in the future less with corrupt governments, but strengthened keep locally an eye out for sustainable and manageable initiatives of the civil society and temporary promote them. That would be the much vaunted "help people help themselves."



Peter Poprawa talked to Johannes Michael Nebe.

Source: n-tv.de
Read the complete article (German) here