Someone from university who I follow on Twitter retweeted a statistic saying that the money (I assume profits) generated from the recent iPhone 4 launch over the past 3 days could supply 8.5 million ‘Africans’ with enough clean water for life.
I wasn’t really shocked or disappointed in this. I mean, Western countries are extremely prone to selfish spending and are largely ignorant of assisting third world countries. Hypocritically (as I do little by ways of ‘assisting’ third world countries other than sporadic charitable donations) I often bring up facts like this to people who whine and moan about all sorts of things. Notably, when the uproar was going on about trialling the Internet filter in Australia, I put out into the Twitterverse that I’d seen more stupid posts about the internet filter in the past week than I would see poignant posts about aid to Africa in a lifetime from the same people.
I was e-attacked, but my point was well made: Few people care about Africa enough to do something substantial. And everyone has an excuse. “I don’t have the means.” “I need to take care of my own family first.” “Australia has enough problems of its own.”
Me? Like I said, I’m hardly a world leader in charity but I do a small part. I am rather anti-foreign aid though, and my reason goes back to the same monetary statistics that started this post. And it is always my underlying principle for advocating a different course in assisting Africa.
Yes, in 3 days a company can generate the money to supply 8.5 million people with clean drinking water. But The same continent has pissed away over $1 trillion dollars in foreign aid over the past ten-year through corrupt regimes and politics. What’s the point of giving foreign aid if the vast majority of it is going to line the pockets of the fat cats over there and have no real impact on the average person?
If I were running a country – a big country – I would have a raft of strings attached to my foreign aid. The more the money, the higher the level of ‘scrutiny’. It would run on a scale of having government-run companies going in with the framework and the management to directly employ locals to do the developing (while supplying the capital to make it possible), to a significant government handling/monitoring/running of the country, all the way to a direct military presence. How is that not better than just handing over buckets of money to the IMF or the World Bank or directly to the government that is screwing the nation over, and saying “Do what you want with it”?
Say what you will of my plan, I bet it wouldn’t be any worse than $1+ trillion grafted funds.