Development aid as the engine of migration

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African elites don’t care if their citizens emigrate uncontrollably and chaotically. They collect development aid and live in rush.

“ Charity doesn’t remove the roots of poverty . 
Volker Seitz

Einsichtigen is clear that one can only prevent the mass migration of African youth devoid of prospects when they find in their home education, meaningful work and decent income. Therefore, many are calling for an increase in development aid. But as a rule, development funds have so far not improved the lot of the poor, but made it worse. The money has always largely seeped into the private pockets of corrupt elites who have no interest in improving the lives of the poor. Development aid stabilizes the balance of power and reinforces the causes of migration.

In an impressive book, Volker Seitz, who has worked as a German ambassador in African countries for 17 years, relentlessly referred to this misery in official development aid. [1]  In the introduction he writes: “ My experiences have led to my assessment of the development opportunities in Africa and the often unfortunate role of development aid. Development aid is plentiful and is not questioned as a good deed for the poor. On the contrary, in a survey 71% said they were in favor of doubling aid. When you’re on location, you can see things in a short time a little differently. “ 

Nothing works without participation and initiative

The money is paid to mostly corrupt governments, the will of which is largely left to what they do with it. Most of the money goes into their private pockets. And projects that have been started often somehow come to grief over time. Nothing matters to the poor. The central problems in education and health care, as well as in the promotion of entrepreneurial initiatives from the own population are not addressed. “ Development aid as we know it today invites abuse. I encountered corruption as a private benefit at the expense of the common good in all developing countries. “ “Samaritan behavior in the north weakens or destroys the recipients’ incentives to make their own efforts. With our constant pity we only reinforce a social welfare mentality that is already chronic in some African countries. ”  

And Volker Seitz comes to the radical demand: “ The primary goal must no longer be more development aid that paralyzes the powers of self-help, but as little money as possible, only as much as is urgently needed. Development, I have no doubt of that, can only take place through the active and convinced participation and initiative of each individual. “

He sees his view shared by many Africans. He quotes the Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda, who has been imprisoned many times because of his criticism of the government: “ Of course, helpers can occasionally achieve humanitarian success by saving a starving village and providing clean drinking water elsewhere, but at the same time destroying it the main mechanism that could eradicate poverty in the long run. The aid undermines the development of a competent, incorruptible state apparatus that serves the interests of the population. ” 

James Shikwati, founder of an economic development agency in Kenya, who also writes in Spiegel and FAZ, among others, is massively criticizing the classic development aid policy: “The impression is always given in the industrialized countries that Africa would go under without development aid. … Unfortunately, the devastating European urge to do good sometimes cannot be met with reason. … If development aid were to be stopped, the political elites would be the first victim because their power structures would be destroyed. The question of an independent African solution would then be on the table. … A cessation of aid will show that most international agencies have used the plight of Africa to raise donations to put a humanitarian touch on them. ”-

The illusionary do-gooder can therefore be seen to a much broader extent, and Volker Seitz draws a first conclusion of the development aid to date. With a few exceptions, development funds would not have provided lasting growth, raised living standards, or improved the lot of the poor, but rather worsened them. The distance between the super rich and the poor beggar is getting bigger. The authoritarian state apparatus does not care that there is a lack of drinking water, blackouts on the agenda and the hygienic conditions are responsible for the high child mortality. They took care of themselves. Even if development funds had to be spent for a specific purpose, they would find their way to the wrong coffers.

Emigration as a valve

If foreigners build hospitals, schools and roads, the government doesn’t have to do it and can instead spend the money on luxury goods. The African elites are world champions in champagne drinking, their car parcels are characterized by an astonishing Mercedes-Benz density. People would like to call this type of leader “Wa Benzi Tribe”. “ Most of those responsible have luxury villas in numerous countries. There are heads of state who spend the week in New York for themselves and their entourage the annual salary of a European head of government. If the media actually raise such accusations, they think they can counteract them with the homicide argument ‘This is racism’. “ 

If you take an honest inventory, Volker Seitz writes that the majority of the aid has evaporated under the African sun. In the absence of good governance, ie lack of transparency, responsibility, efficiency, democratic participation in decisions and, above all, a lack of the rule of law, “ after almost 60 years of independence, most African countries have not tackled the fight against poverty and corruption and overcoming their standstill. There is still incredible poverty and need. At the same time, the wealth of the upper class often takes on magical dimensions. We stand as a viewer in front of an expensive pile of broken glass, but nobody has to justify how little the high expenses ultimately bring. ” 

Seitz diagnoses that the African elites do not care if tens of thousands of their citizens emigrate uncontrollably and chaotically and turn to other countries in which they hope to find a better life than at home. If it were responsible governments, they would have to ask their compatriots to stay in the country and promise them better conditions. But nothing of the sort happens. On the contrary, some African governments have called for the right to migrate.

If I remember correctly, no African state voted against the UN Migration Pact, which postulates a right to migration and open, unimpeded migration routes everywhere. For the African authoritarian regimes, emigration is obviously not an alarm signal, but an outlet. “ They are getting rid of the discontented young citizens who already populate the African centers in large numbers and have no chance of finding a job there. With the export of unemployment, the urgency of one’s own development efforts decreases. ” (P. 30)“The refugee tragedies in Lampedusa remind that African dictators are indifferent to the plight of their own people. Not a word on the official website of the African Union. But that is understandable, because ´Otherwise, Africa would have to ask painful questions about its societies and leaders`. “ (´Business Day`, Johannesburg)

The migrants knew how dangerous the crossing was. In many families and clans there is someone who has tried to find their luck in Europe by boat, which is usually only possible if family members, the clan, the village, join together to finance the crossing. “ So people know what they’re getting into. If you don’t succeed, you have the flaw of being one of those who didn’t make it. Because they should work there and send money. The African continent is the only region in the world where the absolute number of poor continues to grow. If you look at the development of the population, if you take economic and political facts into account, then it should be clear to everyone that people will continue to come in the future. ”

In addition, many of the young people who are hungry for education and ready to train and who are looking for opportunities in life find no opportunities to do so in their home countries and therefore leave them and often do not return after the qualification phase abroad. “African governments are not interested in them. Obviously, learning ability, dynamism and innovation are not always desired, especially when corrupt elites want to protect their property from the new and from competition in their own country. African students have major problems finding accommodation in their home countries and are trying to find employment in Europe or the United States. ”

Finely balanced system of mutual benefit

Africa also loses thousands of university lecturers, doctors, engineers and intellectuals every year because they are prevented from developing professionally in their home countries and because Europe and the USA offer them better working conditions and lucrative jobs. “In less than two decades, Africa has lost a third of its scientists. Around 20,000 doctors and nurses alone leave Sub-Saharan Africa each year. … The lack of qualified scientists, for example at African universities or in companies, is becoming increasingly serious. … It must not be the case that more doctors and nurses from Ghana work on the British Isles than in Ghana itself. ”

The loss of scientists, engineers, doctors (every fourth African doctor works abroad) has devastating consequences for the economy as well as the education and health system, which must overcome the need and misery. “The emigrants send a lot of money home. A company like Western Union specializing in this type of transfer has been booming for several years. But this is the opposite of development aid. For self-development, it is imperative that the well-educated want to live at home. (…) It would make sense to limit the immigration of skilled workers from developing countries and instead ensure that they can work in their home countries. “

German development aid for Africa is organized from state to state and, according to Volker Seitz, always proceeds from the two premises that we should not interfere with the sovereignty of poor countries and that their elites themselves are interested in the lives of their citizens to improve. But that doesn’t work and has nothing to do with reality. The aid flows into government structures that are not aimed at growth and the future, but solely at maintaining power and self-enrichment of the potentates. Nothing is developed with development aid, but rather the political rule of law over the poor people is cemented with their help. Ultimately, the elites have no interest in overcoming the poverty of the population,

“In countries where I worked, donors ( countries ) often paid a ‘motivation bonus’ so that the responsible officials could do their job. In all of the countries I know there is a finely balanced system of granting mutual benefits. “ The” gift of good gifts “does the opposite of development, because governments feel that there is no obligation to comply with the agreements. “ Even with regimes that have been in power for two or three decades, we still hope for the good in people.

Political power that is not opposed to control always degenerates: Neither economic nor social development can be imported. Anyone who continues to represent this after more than five decades of development aid is at best naive. ” 

A former French ambassador to Togo told Volker Seitz that corruption in the country had declined significantly at the time when the donor countries had given up their aid to Togo. Because there was nothing worth mentioning to distribute, and the regime suddenly had to make sure that the few funds were not embezzled on a large scale.

“Tanzania shows the failure of development aid like no other country. The country has everything you need to be happy in terms of resources and nothing that is usually an excuse for why it didn’t work out. (There was) no war of independence, no despotic sole ruler, no military dictatorship, no putsch, no tribalism (tribal conflicts), no religious conflicts, access to the sea, no drought or flood disasters, no excessive crime, no harmful oil or copper wealth, but enough diverse raw materials.
Despite this good starting point and the fact that Tanzania has been the donor’s favorite since independence, it remains one of the ten poorest countries in the world. ”

The states of Africa have been governed since independence by oligarchies, which share the country’s wealth undisturbed. “The bosses take care of details of the protocol. The rituals around presidents are reminiscent of feudal courts. The courtiers (recruited from their own clans and clans) do not think about the future of the country, but put all their energies into flattering the boss, getting titles and taking on cabinet posts that do little work but offer many opportunities in terms of state funds get. (…) The autocrat does not rule, but rules in the pre-democratic chief style. ” 

The government has 65 ministers each in the Congo and Cameroon, 70 in Uganda, 75 in Ghana and 94 ministers in Kenya. “ The President of Kenya expects aid, while earning an annual salary of $ 427,900. In Nigeria a senator even gets $ 1 million a year. (For comparison: the US president earns $ 400,000.) Libreville, the capital of Gabon, affords a mayor who receives around 30,500 euros a month (for comparison: his colleague in Berlin earns 12,500 euros), while many of the 700,000 residents without running water, wastewater disposal and regular electricity supply.

Greedy rulers

Official development aid focuses on the “ownership principle” and is preferred at the expense of project-oriented aid. “ But if you want to make people in Africa laugh, you only have to speak of African ownership. Yes, yes, there is ownership, but it is primarily ‘private’ and less ‘African’. We should no longer ignore the laughter of the poor in Africa. Everyone knows that the executive staff has dozens of the finest properties in Europe, Canada, the United States, Hong Kong and even Brazil. In the most expensive district of Paris, Avenue Foch is also called ´Avenue des dictateurs` in the African vernacular .
In London too, luxury properties are particularly popular among rich Africans from Nigeria, Ghana, Gabon, Cameroon, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the traditional districts of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea. According to real estate agent Engel & Völkers, a penthouse apartment on Hyde Park was sold to an undisclosed African for around 162 million euros in autumn 2014. ” 
Dignitaries in Nigeria have had the unimaginable sum of almost 500 since independence (1960) Embezzled billions of dollars. Corruption investigators reclaim $ 139 and $ 584 billion from former presidents in two cases, who are not named . “

Nevertheless, American economists, western politicians and the UN believe that Africa needs more money. Volker Seitz has only the irony: “The international conference ´Solidarity and Globalization: innovative sources of finance for development and against pandemics’ in Paris in spring 2006 was a good opportunity for the then French President Jacques Chirac, the former UN Secretary General Kofi Anan and the then President of the African Union Denis Sasso Nguesso to call for new funds for the poor in Africa. As announced, Nguesso had just spent $ 280,000 a week in a New York hotel. Easy for a president (the People’s Republic of the Congo),who, as French media reported in February 2009, needed 18 properties and 112 bank accounts in France. The UN demands $ 50 billion to fight poverty and calls for ‘innovative funding instruments’. A source of money is said to be the introduction of a separate flight tax. As the mark-up is levied on behalf of the poor, the consent of the population is sure to be great. “

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