30 MAY 1992, Page 23

Sir: Your editorial 'Crisis, what crisis?' (25 April) is unfair

to Africans and clearly fails to appreciate the realities of aid to Africa.

Most of the aid directed to Africa is real- ly 'basic aid'. That is, aid intended to build roads, hospitals, and schools. Such aid is necessary because deliberate colonial poli- cies left most African countries at indepen- dence without such infrastructure. If basic infrastructure was present at independence, the efforts of most African countries after independence would have been directed towards rapid industrialisation, manpower development, scientific research, and the development of self-reliant economies.

Instead of helping African countries develop basic infrastructure on a once-for- all basis, aid donors have chosen to give aid on a year-to-year and a country-to-country basis. Once-for-all and multinational aid packages would have been more effective.

As a result of inflation, rises in the price of oil, population growth, and changes of poli-

cy in donor countries, basic infrastructure still remains undeveloped and becomes more expensive, and slower to complete. Further, some of the aid given to Africa is really 'bogus aid', for example:

(a) a £5 million British aid package to rehabilitate British Landrovers. Who bene- fits? British Leyland or an African country?

(b) a $50 million US aid package to develop human resources. Who benefits if all the personnel must study at US institu- tions? Building a local university would be more effective.

(c) a Y100 billion Japanese aid package for fertilisers. Who benefits if all the fer- tilisers must come from Japan? Building a local fertiliser plant would make more sense.

I really wish that the refined buffoons who masquerade as aid specialists in min- istries responsible for aid to Africa would stop pretending that it is the fault of Africans that aid to Africa is ineffective. But I can concede that some aid has been misused and that, perhaps, African coun- tries have so far not done enough to devel- op self-reliant economies.

I assure you that Africans do not like begging (and to be constantly reminded they are beggars) and look forward to the day when we will be economically indepen- dent and self-reliant.

George Gabriel Kaliwo

P 0 Box 2640, Blantyre, Malawi