It really shouldn’t comes as a huge surprise that African governments have become tired of the West’s indulgent aid and development programs that place a significantly higher emphasis on “process” over actual results. No doubt though that the latest damning Wikileaks release will shock, SHOCK, many in the Washington aid business as it reveals an increasingly painful truth that African governments find the USA’s and other Western governments’ obsession with “capacity building” to be tiresome. Instead, according to the Kenyan ambassador to Beijing, Julius Ole Sunkuli, China’s focus on producing tangible results with its investment and development programs are far more preferable to many African governments.
Sunkuli claimed that Africa was better off thanks to China’s practical, bilateral approach to development assistance and was concerned that this would be changed by “Western” interference. He said he saw no concrete benefit for Africa in even minimal cooperation. Sunkuli said Africans were frustrated by Western insistence on capacity building, which translated, in his eyes, into conferences and seminars (REF C). They instead preferred China’s focus on infrastructure and tangible projects.
After all, why would any African government choose to have dozens of very well paid USAID officials write endless reports, attend numerous conferences that generate yet more reports all to little or no effect? While this may seem like an exaggeration, the amount of bureaucracy and paperwork that has come to dominate the American aid process cannot be overstated. Pretty much everyone inside the US aid industry itself will tell you, largely off the record, how demoralizing it is to be buried in spreadsheets and reports while producing little to no tangible benefit for those supposedly intended to benefit from American “aid.”
Lead the Conversation on China
Subscribe Today to Get Full Access to The China-Global South Project
The China-Global South Daily Brief delivered to your inbox at 6AM Washington time
Full access to exclusive news and analysis from editors based in the Global South
Transcripts of CGSP’s twice-weekly podcasts