Aid abets corruption in Africa, argues Aids group

International development charities and celebrity campaigners are doing more harm than good in Africa by increasing corruption and dependency, according to a small Aids charity.

African Aids Action founder Jobs Selasie, who is a survivor of the 1984 Ethiopian famine, said the billions of pounds donated to the continent since the Band Aid campaign had resulted in a 500 per cent increase in the number of Africans living on handouts. He said the proportion of African governments’ budgets accounted for by overseas aid had risen from 20 to 70 per cent.

Selasie, who has a number of family members with Aids, said charities used politically correct “blackmail” to prevent the western media from identifying corruption and aid dependency as Africa’s biggest problems. He said charities did not want to talk about corruption for fear of putting donors off.

“Big charities are extremely powerful and influence media and governments, but they aren’t accountable and don’t have any vision,” he said. “In the whole Make Poverty History Campaign, there wasn’t one word said about corruption. Aid has failed because campaigners, charities and governments do not have the right plan and excluded African entrepreneurs and grass-roots organisations from being part of the solution.”

Representatives from Make Poverty History were unable to comment before Third Sector Daily went to press.

African Aids Action is marking World Aids Day on 1 December by launching a new scheme in which ‘investors for change’ can buy shares – costing £100 each – to fund a scheme to manufacture and distribute cheap Aids drugs in Africa. The scheme is based on similar models operating in Thailand and Brazil.

Selasie said: “It is about empowering Africans by transferring technology and creating employment. If the drugs are cheap, they will be able to buy them themselves without handouts. Africans entrepreneurs have been excluded from what is going on in Africa.”

The shares can be bought online at http://www.africanaidsaction.org/buy-share.html.

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