Dambisa Moyo’s well-received book Dead Aid is grabbing the headlines around the world, and with the next stage of her book tour including giving advice to the Zambian government, the findings seem likely to gain traction throughout African politics. Her key point is that previous aid provided to Africa has been detrimental to the economics of the local private sector, crowding out innovation and favouring international solutions over homegrown ones. There is a mountain of evidence for this, and more will likely emerge as this message is rammed home via Amazon and However, I worry this is a partial solution ceteris paribus but is not so viable a solution under tighter fiscal times. Donors have and continue to pilot new forms of aid – matched funding, structural adjustment, challenge funds – and possibly the current credit crunch calls for new aid models to be piloted which enable trade credit – so vital for the functioning of supply chains that reach into and start in rural parts of developing countries – to persist. While the idea of providing at-cost credit facilities for moneylenders and middlemen might be unpalatable to many aid agencies stuck in a “giving” mentality, it might be the sort of thinking that can provide insurance for Africa’s poor and its fragile environments.

Sustainableslump hopes that Dambisa can consider ensuring her message is not no aid, rather better modified aid that stimulates not stifles local innovation and economic activity.