The problem.

For as long as I can remember I have seen adverts on television depicting Africa as this desolate, filthy and desperate continent. If you have not seen these adverts, just turn on a television and you will not have to wait long. The governments of wealthy countries love to paint pictures of themselves as charitable and generous when it comes to the subject of the Aid given to Africa. The charitable rhetoric that has been fed to the western public over the years from these countries may have been a tad exaggerated. Some things just do not add up.

Am I the only one who has always wondered why little evidence was available for all of their years of work and why little can be shown for all of the aid? I am not saying that the development aid does not help, but surely all of the copious amounts of money that is sent to Africa should have had more of a visible impact? With all of the different charitable organisations plastering our screens with African children. Children with swollen tummies, covered with flies being recorded drinking the water that could kill them "with every sip"...since that is all that Africa is, right? You would have though that all of their work would have resulted in less of these adverts. Yet they are still very much being broadcasted.


How much?

Despite there being an estimated $134 billion every year that enters sub-Saharan Africa mainly through development aid, foreign investment and loans, a non-government organisation (NGO) based in the UK and Africa suggested that roughly $192 billion is taken out, mainly in profits made by foreign companies, tax dodging and the costs of adapting to climate change".

So if $134 billion enters the continent and $192 billion leaves the continent, then what of the $58 billion deficit?

The report continues, adding: "the British government has been widely praised for its charitable credentials in meetings its aid commitment; yet it simultaneously presides over the world's largest network of tax havens that enables the theft of billions from Africa each year".

If all of the financial and economic jargon throws you off, the bottom line is that Africa is being looted! But who do we point fingers at? Well, I am glad you asked. According to the report "the UK and other wealthy governments are at the heart of this theft".

Aid or theft?

The idea that this aid is actually benefiting the African countries "has facilitated a perverse reality in which the UK and other wealthy governments celebrate their generosity whilst simultaneously assisting their companies to drain Africa's resources". True, western countries do send $30 billion in development aid to Africa on average a year, but what affect does that really have if more than six times that amount leaves the continent and goes straight back to the same countries that are giving it?

Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action and one of the NGOs involved in the report suggested that we "use more accurate language. It's sustained looting- the opposite of generous giving- and we should recognise that the City of London is at the heart of the global financial system that facilitates this". The report continues, adding that "if the rest of the world continues to raid Africa the same rate, $580 billion will be taken from the Africans people over the next ten years".

Whilst the adverts use emotional blackmail and emotive videos and pictures appealing to our humanity, western governments are taking a huge slice out of the African cake. It seems you truly can have your cake and eat it to- well, that is if you are a western country and do not care if the cake you are eating was taken out of the hand of a hungry child. Africa is being systematically robbed.