Britain says it has given $1.1 billion to Zimbabwe in aid over the past decade- but where has the money all gone?

This is the image that Westminster wants the British taxpayer to get -that of a benevolent government, helping poor Africans. What it is not telling its taxpayers though, is that for every £100 it gives to Africans, it gets £640 back. In other words, Africa is aiding Britain and not the other way around.

This is what a new study released on 10 July 2014 entitled: Honest accounts , says. The study was carried out by a group of non-governmental organisations spearheaded by Health Poverty Action and has the subtitle: The true story of Africa's billion dollar losses.

It says while the West wants its citizens to think they are helping to alleviate poverty in Africa, "the reality is that Africa is being drained of resources by the rest of the world. It is losing far more each year than it is receiving. While $134 billion flows into the continent each year, predominantly in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid; $192 billion is taken out, mainly in profits made by foreign companies, tax dodging and the costs of adapting to climate change. The result is that Africa suffers a net loss of $58 billion a year. As such, the idea that we are aiding Africa is flawed; it is Africa that is aiding the rest of the world.

"Whilst we are led to believe that 'aid' from the UK and other rich countries to the continent is a mark of our generosity, our research shows that this is a deception. Wealthy countries, including the UK, benefit from many of Africa's losses. While aid to Africa amounts to less than $30 billion per year, the continent is losing $192 billion annually in other resource flows, mainly to the same countries providing that aid. This means African citizens are losing almost six and a half times what their countries receive in aid each year, or for every £100 given in aid, £640 is given back. This demands that we rethink our role in addressing poverty in Africa."

African countries, however, continue to extend the begging hand to the West not just for aid but also for foreign investment, raising the question: Are Africans too poor or too stupid?

South Africa's former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel asked this question twelve years ago. But it was the other way around. He asked: "Are we too stupid or too poor?"

Manuel, who served as South Africa's Finance Minister for 13 years under three South African presidents- Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe- had every reason to be upset. He had advocated spending cuts, the dismantling of trade barriers and fighting inflation for six years- all under the guidance of the World Bank- but he had nothing to show for it.
"Developing countries have undertaken many reforms, but the benefits are, in fact, very slim," he conceded.

Patrick Bond, who was at the University of Witwatersrand at the time, concurred: "South Africa did everything the World Bank said they should and more, and yet it's not working. They failed in getting growth, employment or redistribution."

The Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Network said at the time that developing countries were going round and round in a vicious circle. Forcing poor countries to lower trade barriers undercut local businesses. Curbing food subsidies meant they had to rely on imports and focusing on inflation meant that economies were not given a chance to grow.

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