Bad Development


The issue of China in Africa boils the blood of many. Between the alleged lack of concern for human rights and the resultant ability to undercut Western business, concerns are felt by many. Poor or unrepresentative governance can also lead to deals that do not stand to benefit the general populace, and the earnings could cement repressive regimes in power at the long term cost of the nation.

Since the death of President Conte last year, Guinea has been under rule of a military junta led by Moussa Dadis Camara. Just two weeks ago, a political protest in Conakry resulted in heavy a governmental crackdown, with 157 killed and numerous women raped. Amidst the resultant general strike, Mahmoud Thiam, Mine Minister of Guinea said that a deal has been inked with China calling for $7 billion worth of infrastructural investment. Money will be spent on ports, railway lines, a new administrative center in Conakry, power plants, and low cost housing. The Chinese firm will be invited in as a strategic partner for the new mines that hope to benefit from these developments.

With the Agricultural Minister stepping down, widespread denouncing of Camara, and the president of Ecowas (Western African Economic Block) suggesting dictatorship is on the horizon; is this another story of opportunistic investment?

Depends on where you come from. Moyo, author of Dead Aid would likely call this progress. Many approve of business creation and infrastructure development, even with the social ills that may come along side it, over “aid” that has proven so comprehensively ineffective in Africa. But then again whether this falls under the elusive category of aid is up for debate (systemic aid anyone?).

The bottom line is there is a lot of good that can come from this questionable arrangement. Only time will tell.

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I recently quit my job.

Development organizations can be quite misleading – assuming that best interests are in mind, donors can be caught unawares by the grey area that can be exploited by organizations who aren’t totally selfless (which is most). Money is not always spent in the best way possible.
My issue with this particular organization came to a head when I was given the budget for an upcoming project. Aside from the exorbitant salaries, travel expenses that were through the roof, and money allocated for hotel expenses that would make Eliot Spitzer blush, was the call for two company cars, in Chad, for $120,000. (amounting to approx 12.5% of the budget).

Needless to say I was quite pleased to see Alanna Shaikh’s latest post about how to judge an NGO’s spending habits