The always provocative and insightful Chris Blattman asks:
How come all the Africans getting press on the aid debate are conservatives and libertarians? Moyo, Mwenda, Hirsi Ali. The list is getting longer. All make good points (well, at least Mwenda does) but these hardly strike me as indigenous voices. Most seem to be channeling Milton Friedman. There's nothing wrong with a little Friedman in your thinking, but is this "authentic Africa" or the product of elite education in the West?
I see two hypotheses: (1) Africans hate aid; and (2) it is easier to get on camera if you are African and hate aid.
I'm going to lean towards... um... number 2.
Where are the Africans on camera with something different to say? Reader suggestions welcome.
Why wasn’t anyone complaining all those years when most African economists were employed by or consulting for the aid agencies, and thus automatically could not criticize aid? And why isn’t anybody complaining about “elite education in the West” for Latin Americans, Turks, Indians, Indonesians, Koreans, or Chinese, some of whom also borrow ideas from Milton Friedman? Is there a double standard for Africans?
I think Blattman’s hypothesis (2) may be partly correct. I would add corollary (2b): Africans working for aid agencies and repeating their platitudes are just as boring as all other aid officials, few of whom show up on camera. How about hypothesis (3): there are a variety of African opinions on aid, and it is healthy to have an aid debate taking place within Africa.