Dambisa Moyo illustrates her unusual life journey with an anecdote. In Zambia, which gained independence from the United Kingdom only five years before her birth, black citizens were not issued birth certificates, she said. Now, as an international economist, her passport contains stamps from 75 countries.
Ms. Moyo, 45, leapt onto the world stage with her 2009 book “Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa.” In it she argued that foreign aid contributed to existing dependency and stifled every form of sustainable homegrown entrepreneurial ventures. She called for more trade and direct investment instead of financial handouts to unlock the continent’s potential.
Although critics pounced on her conclusions, she clearly struck a nerve as the book zoomed to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, alienating the world’s philanthropists in the process.
Even Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates weighed in with his condemnation. “I think that the book actually did damage the generosity of rich world nations,” he said in a 2013 interview. “I have read it and I think she didn’t know much about aid and what aid is doing.”
As far as Ms. Moyo is concerned, the criticism just shows how people continue to embrace the ideology of aid.
“I don’t worry about personal attacks,” she said. “The world has bigger problems.”