Interesting. One of the points raise in Our Common Interest was 20 years' of ramped-down aid without strings of interest or moral agendas that would be invested by the Pan-African council in infrastructure and businesses.

Instead of the average Western person who wants to help buying CD's or setting up a direct debit with a charity, I wonder if Africa Unchained offers a different how-to list for small scale investment? Or is their too much collective historical guilt to invest with expectations of profit compared to making a donation?
One thing that I came across in an artical about the long term viability of Fair Trade was an organisation which did something similar.

http://www.technoserve.org/

A logical extension of giving a person a net rather than a fish? Give them the ability to compete rather than a artificially supported economy?

Interesting editorial line that magazine has.

To be honest, it looks to me like the usual self-serving small-government view. The difference between aid and investment is not that one is managed locally, but that one takes out more than it gets in in the hope that the local activity generates even more . . . this is an approach which has largely failed across huge swathes of Africa in the past, leaving the locals little better off than before. I didn't notice them explaining how it'll be different this time.

As Bonzo's friend Angie pointed out, the Marshall Plan worked very well - the question is not whether aid can work, but how to make sure it works.
I thought it was more interesting where the article talked about how the aid could be used, rather than suggesting aid was of no use. As you say, the advantage of aid is that no return is expected, however how does this affect how that aid is allocated and spent?

It seems to me that aid as an enabler to investment (from within or without), to business, to the infrastructure is lowering the bar to an Africa which can be self-supporting and competative on a global scale.

As bad as the soundbites are "helping people help themselves" does at least suggest an end point to the dependance on handouts, something which the developed and developing world would like to see, surely?

I felt they were setting investment and aid up as alternatives. The magazine's very closely - very closely - aligned with a government with a pretty poor record on development issues.

how does this affect how that aid is allocated and spent?

Both positively and negatively, I'd say. Not having an overriding need to generate hard currency to repay investors is an advantage for a development project, but on the other hand having foreign investors involved with money to lose means that simple and well-established means can be used to oversee matters. Of course, these too have been known to fail, and to be crippling to Africans when they succeed, but the fact that they already exist is helpful.

aid as an enabler to investment

Yes. As is the case elsewhere, there are necessary projects which aren't in themselves attractive as private investments, but make meaningful economic activity possible.

an end point to the dependance on handouts

Absolutely. The article, though, takes the line that aid is actually a bad thing ("Andrew Mwenda [ . . . ] lambasted the Western world's "international cocktail of good intentions" for robbing Africa of its future") rather than just something needing careful management. It explicitly says that investment isn't about reducing poverty, and the only positive role it finds for aid is to build infrastructure for business.
That article somewhat echoes the Swedish govermental foreign aid agnecy's view on "aid to Africa". Only ship food for immediate crises. Ship vaccine. Ship condoms and sex.ed leaflets. Ship hand-tools for agriculture. Make sure that any and all engines shipepd are rugged and fixable with hand-tools.

At some level, I think aid is still necessary, but I also fear the morale of a nation reared on foreign aid. Maybe the solution is for Nigeria to find and imprison all 419 scanmmers and distribute taht wealth to the rest of Africa?
For sure. F'rinstance, If the US and Eurozone were to lift their rather protectionist tariffs on imported foodstuffs, Africa would be quids in. 'Free' trade, my arse.

Until then, we'll just have to make do with giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
Hmm... interesting article, I agree with quite a lot of that. Thanks for posting.