Aid, development and the state in Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)1 as a region currently receives the highest share of Oﬃcial Development Assistance (ODA) in the world with around one third of overall net ODA ﬂows during the period 2000-7 (Figure 9.1). It is also the leading region in aid receipts in per capita terms (Figure 9.2). A signiﬁcant number of countries can be classiﬁed as ‘aid-dependent’ in the sense that aid represents 15 per cent or more of their GNI (Table 9.1). To an extent, the contemporary history of many SSA countries is closely tied in with what we can call the ‘aid complex’, which includes the various international and national institutions funding and implementing aid projects, the ﬁnancial and in-kind ﬂows, associated technical assistance, and the various African government and non-government institutions dealing with or created by donor agencies over the past four decades. Foreign aid in Africa has had multiple and contradictory eﬀects. It has, for example, shaped state formation (and ‘deformation’) and state-society relations, aﬀected regional geopolitics, moulded and driven policy regimes, assisted in emergencies, prevented and fuelled conﬂict, and provided much needed services, infrastructure and capital injections. For some critics, ODA in Africa is mainly an expression of Western imperialist projects (Petras and Veltmeyer, 2005), perhaps even including Chinese aid, which is also interpreted as a new form of imperialism taking advantage of SSA’s vulnerabilities and weak bargaining power (see quotes of this view on Chinese aid in Alden et al., 2008). For others, who are less pessimistic and ‘functionalist’, ODA remains the only realistic and reliable source of foreign ﬁnance at least for the medium term, and particularly in a context of global ﬁnancial crisis.