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Impact of Foreign Aid on Sub Saharan Africa Essay

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Updated: Apr 21st, 2020

The purpose of foreign aid is to provide development and alleviate poverty in poor and underdeveloped countries. Foreign aid aught to be a source of development and investment for the people in poor countries to support local projects. The intention is good but translating that intention to reach the target has been a nightmare to recipient countries. Instead of improving living standards of African people, foreign aid has ended up contributing to poverty and underdevelopment in the sub Saharan African countries (Rise and Cooper 304).

Aid as an award to government

To begin with, foreign aid has not helped sub Saharan African countries because it is given from government to government. Foreign aid is not given in good faith but motivated by connection between the leader of receiving country and the donating country. Such aid is spent wastefully as the project supported may not be important but only beneficial to the head of state or elites in those countries.

It is through such projects that presidents and close allies get rich. Corruption results from wastage, mismanagement and inefficiency. This occurs due to lack of transparency on the side of sub Saharan African countries on the purpose of the foreign aid leading to cynicisms. The project fails because it may not be viable, employing unqualified people or escalating the construction prices that projects are not completed (Joseph 212).

Aid as bait

In addition, foreign aid acts like a bait to bring on board countries that are not supporting their policies. Donor countries propel their own interests and needs. They use foreign aid as a solution to get the countries in their fold. Such projects fail because of a wrong motive on the side of the donor. The intent is not correct and its importance is not realized by the people.


Thirdly, foreign aid has not helped the sub Saharan African countries because it has created dependency. The sub Saharan countries of Africa have depended on foreign aid and this has led to choking of local production. Due to dependency by the sub Saharan countries on foreign aid the result has been dead local industries, lack of local mechanism of production, farming and reduced zeal of hard work among the locals.

Due to dependency by sub Saharan countries on foreign aid, surplus in agricultural sector from the donors are always dumped in the recipient countries and this has also wiped out local production in agriculture. This surplus are dumped at cheaper prices than the local products and this causes people to go for the cheaper products, leaving their own products without knowing that this is killing their local industries. This is like transferring the wealth from poor people to the rich in developed countries (Riddic 113).

Inferior technology

Fourthly, most of foreign aid goes to projects which require advanced technology and this kind of skills are not available among the locals. Whenever such projects break down or require maintenance it’s difficult to sort out the mess until a foreigner is sought to repair. This has led to many projects funded by foreign aid to only end up as white elephants.

Unfair contractual terms

Finally, whenever donor countries give aid there is always a clause attached on the contract forcing the recipient country do to all sourcing of the material or expertise from the donor country. This has made sub Saharan African countries to procure equipment and material at higher prices than they could have gotten from another country cheaply. It has killed the spirit of competition and donor countries continue to dictate the use of the donated funds as a way of transferring wealth back to them.

Support of argument

However, there are still some benefits that foreign aid has brought to the sub Saharan countries. One of the proponents of foreign aid argues that in case of low production in agricultural sector, sub Saharan people have received food for alleviating hunger. The argument holds water as most of the sub Saharan countries have been struck by prolonged drought. Foreign aid has saved such people from starvation (Calderisi 120).

Moreover, foreign aid has increased the level of knowledge among locals by creating job opportunities and wealth in the countries. Locals are trained and deployed in the program to maintain and continue to produce. Locals of sub Saharan countries are now technologically savvy which assists them to run the project independently (Hundson and Linna 248).


In conclusion, foreign aid has not reached its target in the sub Saharan African countries. It is foreign to the people of sub Saharan because the benefits only goes to elites in Africa. In order to realize the importance of foreign aid then donor countries must ensure that transparency, accountability and people participation is guaranteed before releasing it.

This will reduce the white elephant projects that are wasteful and beneficial to a few individuals in government. Donor countries could use civil society to implement their projects whenever the government proves untrustworthy.

Works Cited

Hundson, Alan and J. Linna. Beyond Aid for Sustainable Development, London: Macmillan Publishers, 2009. Print.

Calderisi, Robert. The Trouble With Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working, London: Macmillan Publishers, 2006. Print.

Riddic, Roger. Does Foreign Aid Work, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

Rise, Axerlrod and C. Cooper, The St Martin Guide to Writing, New York, NY: St Martin Publisher, 2010. Print.

Joseph, Williams. Styles: Lesions In Clarity and Grace, New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. Print.

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