Heart of darkness

Heart of darkness, by Tony Thomas.

Sometimes African rulers get so corrupt that Western aid donors go on strike. Take what Trump would call the shit-hole state of Malawi (please!).

Malawi relies on donors for 40 per cent of its spending. In 2013 a junior public servant was caught with cash bales of $US300,000 in his car boot. Raids on bureaucrats’ homes and car boots located more bales. Then someone shot the finance ministry’s budget director.

‘Cashgate’ travelled up to ministerial level, with initial allegations of a snaffled $US50m escalating to $US250m. The entire cabinet resigned. Normally-lavish donor Norway led a freezing of $US150m in aid, pending reforms.

Australian taxpayers’ despatched a bit over $A98m to Malawi in the past decade. Heck, round it to $100m. In the pre-scandal year we put in $23m. Was it coincidence that next year we halved it to $12m? All is forgiven because post-scandal we’ve given Malawi $46m-plus.

Aid ain’t transformative. Malawi’s signature accomplishment is breeding – 3 per cent annual population growth. …

Schools are so useless that three-quarters of kids in sixth-grade primary can’t read. …

From western taxpayers to Swiss bank accounts, roughly equal amounts:

But Western aid, alas, averages the same $US50 billion a year as $US50 billion-plus in ‘illicit outflows’ via politicians, officials, business people and criminals, a figure not disputed by the OECD. A pan-African study in 2013 put illicit outflows from 1980-2009 at $US1.2-1.4 trillion, again about equal to aid. …

Corruption is not just mountains of cash:

Guinea is rich in iron ore. One mine was reckoned good for $US7b annual exports for 20 years. In 2008 the Guinea government sold a multinational the mining rights for $US165m. The company promptly sold-on half its concession for $US2.5b. A successor government re-let the concession for $US20 billion, a far cry from the original $165m. …

Money is fungible:

Rwanda’s strongman President Paul Kagame is an Arsenal soccer fan. Last month he paid £30m ($A53m) for ‘Visit Rwanda’ to sponsor Arsenal. His clique can now enjoy perks like an Arsenal hospitality box. …

In the past six years Australia gave $19m to Rwanda in official aid, equivalent to a third of Kagame’s payout to Arsenal.

No one is grappling with the big problems of African population growth rates and Islam:

While donors fret, sub-Sahara has become a population time-bomb, many countries gaining 3 per cent a year. Africa’s 1.26b could double to 2.53b by 2050, the UN projects, and nearly double again to 4.47b by 2100. The big feller is Nigeria, now 190m, but growing to 410m by 2050 and 794m by 2100. Currently Islamic forces in Nigeria are ‘ethnic cleansing’ Christian communities and Boko Haram is brutally suppressing girls’ education. (Australia’s decade of Nigerian aid: $48.5m).

hat-tip Stephen Neil