Book Review: Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo


Dambisa Moyo is an Economist with the experience of working with top financial institutions including the world bank. She is the author of a few books including, ‘Dead Aid- Why Aid is not working and How there is a better way for Africa’ which I find equally intriguing and thought-provoking.

In this book, she is totally for the idea of completely abolishing aid that streams into Africa from the developed world. Her running argument is that aid has worsened the state of African states over the years instead of solving the inequality issues that it was intended for. Generally, she supports her arguments with the current state of African countries who have been beneficiaries of foreign aid so far including her home country, Zambia. Her expertise in the area gives her the credibility as she is involved with creating strategies targeting the African market and together with her being an African it is easier to assume that she knows the difficulties that Africa faces, rather understands them from a perspective that an outsider wouldn’t.

The book does spark a lot of mixed feelings for most people because the data on the impact of Aid is scarce and mostly unreliable as there is not extensive research for it and also, the available data is mostly not provided from a perspective of the African countries rather mostly for the white gaze. Moyo’s argument is that Aid lessens the grip on accountability and as we are witness to it as Africans we can only agree mostly, with her sentiments. Corruption is the talk of most African countries with scandals erupting right, left and centre every other day. Dambisa’s argument is that with limited or controlled aid, Africa will propel to unimaginable heights.


Dead AID. Image from

I believe she raises important points and her perspective cannot be entirely dismissed but also, I cannot 100% agree. The conversation of Aid is more nuanced than she addresses it and even though it is entirely impossible to capture the complexities of this conversation in one book, I believe there is a lot more to it than cutting it short or Aid being the sole source of African poverty.

I am left with more questions than answers after reading this book. The simplistic questions are not tackled and in-depth solutions are not offered. However, this book is a conversation starter as it has provided even the language to ask some questions that we would otherwise struggle to frame. Through this short read, you get to explore a sense of the financial world in a simplified form. Moyo clearly put her heart into this and when possible, she refrained from complex financial terms. After reading the book, the effects of colonialism became my focus in addition to financial slavery as addressed by Thomas Sankara publicly in various forums. This book leads to more questions than answers but it sure did provoke a conversation worth contemplating and having.

My pdf version is 131 pages and it is a New York Bestseller. In this well-intentioned book and her immaculate experience, we can only conclude that it is a book worth your time. If you read fast, you’re in for a treat that doesn’t take you longer than a few hours.

“Clearly, however, not all African countries are equal… but the point is that, in order to succeed and escape the mire of poverty and despair, they need a mix of this solutions and an end to aid dependency.” (Moyo, pp:96)

This book can be purchased from here if you are in Kenya or Amazon both the soft and hard copy.

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Caroline Mumbe is passionate about anything money related. She is an entrepreneur and writer who enjoys simplifying financial concepts and making sure people lead their best financial lives. She reads a lot and knows the best coffee joints in Nairobi.