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Aid, Accountability and ICT4D

December 1, 2010 2 comments
Corruption is one of the biggest evils in Africa. Fundamental issues concerning development of the continent lead back to the problems surrounding influential men trying to absorb as much resources as they can get their hands on while others die of malnutrition or easily prefentable disease. Uganda is one of the most fertile countries in the world, yet, people die of hunger. During the past 5 month stay in Uganda, I did research on the way citizens in Uganda are able to check up on their leaders and their ability to hold them accountable for the management of the country. Within this question I focussed on the way (new) media technologies could play a part in monitoring and creating awareness, transparency and consequent accountability.

Aid and Accountability: Why the two don’t mix

July 27, 2010 2 comments

In this post I will dig a little deeper in the implications of current development aid and how it is related to the lack of power African citizens have over their government. Most people know this discussion through the writings of Dambisa Moyo in her recent book ‘Dead Aid’. Although I do not agree with the solutions suggested by Moyo, I do acknowledge some of the problems she puts forward.

Foreign Aid and Democracy

Democracy as we know it evolves from mutual dependency of the elite and the general public. They depend on each other in order to create a stable economy which will benefit all.

In their symbiosis, the general public produces commodities which the elite collect and distribute.  When either of the two does not perform their task well, one is able to hold the other accountable for not sticking to the deal. Elites can punish civilians who do not pay tax or disobey the law, civilians can demonstrate and vote for another government if tax money is not spent according to their needs.

This extremely simplified description of modern democracy will hopefully help to explain why problems can arise from foreign aid flooding in to a state. Foreign aid can complicate and eventually erode the dependency relations between government and civilians. This disruption of dependency relations eventually leads to governments who are over sensitive when it comes to foreign investors. Citizens will not generate as much wealth as foreign parties, so accountability of government processes shift toward these investors (Aid, Chinese investments, sale of natural resources to international corporations etc.). Citizens are less valuable to the elite and in the historically weak democracies of Africa, civil society will be hesitant to demand rights they have never known.  In other words; Foreign aid can ‘short circuit’ the link between government and civil society and obfuscate the democratic process.

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