NASA on Mars vs. Development in Africa?
Better late than never, I’m about to start reading “Dead Aid“, Dambisa Moyo’s much touted book. I’ve already read a few blog posts and reviews – some about her, some about her book – and the Guardian’s “An evening with Dambisa Moyo” seemed worth a look. In an otherwise downbeat review, one statement stood out a mile.
“Africa is to development what Mars is to NASA” – the ultimate development studies essay question. It certainly got me thinking. To what extent is Africa development’s playground, a place to ‘try things’, to experiment? Often with so little accountability – see Bill Easterly‘s “White Man’s Burden” – it’s easy to see why it’s thought of as an easy place to pilot, to test, to try out. “And if it goes wrong, well, let’s try something else, somewhere else”.
During a workshop at IDS a couple of weeks ago, I commented that the development sector in Africa was littered with the carcasses of failed projects, a kind of ‘elephant graveyard’ for the well-intended.
I’d love to see an ICT4D/African technology conference pick up on the “NASA, Mars, Development, Africa” theme. And I’d love to be in the audience. Any takers?