Foreign Aid As A Leverage of Influence In Africa
Foreign Aid refers to the transfer of resources, such as money, goods or services from one country or organization to another. This is usually done with the intention of promoting development, alleviating poverty, or addressing humanitarian crises. However, on many occasions, foreign aid can come with political and economical strings attached. For the country receiving aid, this can have a significant impact on its governance, development and overall sovereignty.
The main sources of foreign aid to Africa are Western Countries, mainly the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Multilateral Institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union are also major donors. Many of these donors are driven by more than humanitarian and developmental concerns. For instance, the United States gives foreign aid to African Countries that it deems helpful in its counterterrorism campaign, such as Ethiopia and Kenya. France, meanwhile, aids its former colonies to maintain its influence and access to their natural resources.
Western donors often use foreign aid as a leverage to influence the political and social dynamics of African countries by attaching conditions and criteria to their aid disbursement. They use these conditions to coerce African countries to adopt or reform their policies and institutions to line up with the donor’s values and interests. Many of these values and interests are from a modern western cultural system that goes against what many African people want for themselves.
In Kenya, the Member of Parliament for Homa Bay Town, Peter Kaluma, earlier in the year submitted a Family Protection Bill to Parliament. The Bill seeks to criminalize the promotion, recruitment and funding of homosexuality and LGBTQ activities in the country. The Bill also asserts that parents have the right to consent to and be informed on any sex education being given to their children. It defines sex as the biological state of being either male or female as observed and assigned at birth. Additionally, the proposed Act explicitly bans same sex marriages and forbids LGBTQ persons from adopting children.
It is clear that a lot of what is contained in the Bill goes against the liberal “values” and “cultures” that Western Countries want to propagate around the world. Professor Fred Ogola launched a report last week highlighting the economic repercussions Kenya might face if the Family Protection Bill is passed through. Professor Ogola, an economist and social scientist, estimates that the country can lose up to KES 4 Trillion if the President signs the Bill into law. The professor explained that Kenya depends a lot on foreign donors and that these donors have given pre-conditions for their continued support. One of the conditions is support for the LGBTQ community - usually presented as not discriminating against anyone based on their sexual orientation. He concluded that violating any one of these conditions may lead to the withholding of financial support.
Earlier in the year, Uganda passed new legislation banning LGBTQ activities in the country. The United States and the World Bank were quick to condemn the bill, disregarding the fact that it had popular support from the people of Uganda. The World Bank released a statement saying that the law contradicted its values and that it would suspend funding until discussions were had with Ugandan authorities over the issue.
It is clear that Western donors are using foreign aid as a leverage to influence the political and social dynamics of African countries. This is done by imposing conditions and criteria that reflect their own values and interests, regardless of whether or not a majority of the people agree with them or not. Because withdrawal of foreign aid can have severe and lasting impact on the development and stability of some African countries, there is a need for alternatives to the current model of foreign aid. Africa needs to reduce its dependency on aid and find a way to stand on its own two feet. That is the only way it can achieve a more balanced and sustainable relationship with the West, where its values are respected.