Foreign aid; development assistance; foreign investment; these terms are now gaining another synonym: rogue aid. In an excerpt from the Foreign Policy Blog, rouge aiders are defined as such, “Because their goal is not to help other countries develop. Rather, they are motivated by a desire to further their own national interests, advance an ideological agenda, or sometimes line their own pockets. Rogue aid providers couldn’t care less about the long-term well-being of the population of the countries they ‘aid’.”
China is now the largest rogue aid competitor. The author of the blog entry says, “My friend was visibly shaken. He had just learned that he had lost one of his clients to Chinese competitors. ‘It’s amazing,” he told me. “The Chinese have completely priced us out of the market. We can’t compete with what they are able to offer’.” China can outbid the World Bank in aid lending power! What does this say for the future of the aid community? What does this say for the future of development? When economically powerful, wealthy, nondemocratic countries can circumvent the aid policies of the established lending institutions what can we really expect for development and aid programs? China can outbid the World Bank for a railroad project in Nigeria and sets no stipulation for combatting corruption, it can sign environmentally harmful agreements, it can provide funding without regard to the transparency of governments.
The Foreign Policy article gives three simple answers as to why China and other countries are stepping up their aid game. “[…] money, access to raw materials, and international politics.” These countries are not so concerned to create development or provide aid and help as many people as they can. There are obvious underlying motives to China’s upswing in development aid. This is not to say that China is the first to use rouge aid as a international relations tool. The United States and the Soviet Union used rogue aid to gain the allegiance of dictators. Our world is not in the position now to allow such initiatives to continue. The World Bank and other large aid agencies are monitored closely by watchdog groups, but these ‘rogue’ countries can lend and corrupt and ignore as much as they want.
The greatest threat that I see, and which I wrote about in an earlier post, is the obvious – China is set on getting all that it can from Africa. China has a great lust for Africa’s resources and their thirst is becoming unquenchable. Will Africa be drained and left with people living without basic infrastructure, left empty handed, left to die in ‘under-development.’ There is a quote from the FP article that sums up my thoughts, “Worse, they are effectively pricing responsible and well-meaning aid organizations out of the market in the very places where they are needed most. If they continue to succeed in pushing their alternative development model, they will succeed in underwriting a world that is more corrupt, chaotic, and authoritarian. That is in no one’s interests, except the rogues.”