FOREIGN AID TO AFRICA: A GEOGRAPHICAL ANALYSIS

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ABSTRACT

Africa has become an aid addict. After a brief discussion of the relative importance of aid in present-day Africa, the geography of aid is described. Political independence meant a proliferation of aid donors and aid arrangements for the African continent. In most new states aid was dominated by the former colonial masters first, but became much more diversified later. However, there is a clear difference between the former British (and Portuguese) and the former French (and Belgian) colonies. Among the new bilateral aid ‘donors’, first the USA became important, followed by East Bloc, German, Scandinavian, and Arab inroads during the 1970s and increased participation by Japan and Italy during the 1980s, while the East Bloc involvement virtually disappeared. During the late 1970s, it also seemed that multilateral aid would become more important, and some thought that within Europe the EC would take over from the various bilateral partners. However, during the 1980s the percentage of multilateral aid in total aid flows and central EC aid in total aid from EC-Europe stagnated at a rather low level. An interesting phenomenon was the increasing importance of non-governmental organizations as a channel for aid money from northern governments and multilateral agencies. The changes in the relative importance of official development assistance (ODA) versus ‘other official flows’ and ‘private flows’ during the 1980s are described, and the patterns of aid are compared with the patterns of trade. Finally, aid is compared with development performance and the consequences of large aid dependency are seen to support a ‘rent mentality’ that is detrimental to development.

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