I read this article today about a drastic step from the Eriterian government in its ongoing tug of war with the Western Aid agencies In Asmara. It goes to show how much real frustration policymakers in Africa are grappling with as they try to find a way to run their countries, accept foreign assistance and develop their people and infrastructure. It is hard to tell whether the Eriterians are right to suspend the operations of USAID, but I am sure it was precipitated by their realization that the foreign aid apparatus as setup is not working.
It is hard not to come to the bitter conclusion that Aid organizations are somehow, conciously or unconciously, invested in the dire status quo. The exorbitant administrative costs, the luxurious vehicles, the ample accomodation in third world capitals, the ready supply of good food and entertainiment, all in all, suggest that the institutions are employment bureaus for jaded idealists and not results oriented do-gooders. Actions such as the one taken by the Asmara government might herald a new dawn where the local african governments are decisive partners and players in the efforts, and not mere supplicants waiting for pronouncements and directives from the smug foreign consultants.