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Lunch with the FT: Dambisa Moyo;
And, as the historian Niall Ferguson (a contributing editor to the FT), notes in a foreword to Moyo’s book, she is venturing into a debate that has to date been colonised by white men – be they rock stars such as Bono, politicians such as Tony Blair or the academics Jeffrey Sachs and Bill Easterly...
Her book contains a damning assessment of the failures of 60 years of western development programmes, but also focuses on an alternative path. This blends micro-finance and changes to property laws with a grasp of the immense opportunity and freedom that shifting global trade patterns, Chinese investment in infrastructure and bond markets could represent for Africa.
“There has been more private capital coming into Africa; more African countries have been issuing bonds. There are the Chinese ... Africa has turned a corner. Now it’s about closing the deal,” she insists with characteristic optimism and a slice of Parma ham, delivered as an amuse-gueule between courses....
And what of the World Bank, where Moyo once worked for two years, and the International Monetary Fund? Do they and other donors not deserve some credit for helping lay the foundations in some countries of recent growth? Yes, they do, she says, in terms of the reforms they have promoted but they have not been aggressive enough about phasing out aid.
This might sound high-handed from someone who lives comfortably in London. But Moyo is not arrogant. She counts herself exceptionally lucky. When she was growing up as a young girl in Zambia her aspiration was to become a flight attendant. She never dreamed she would win the scholarships that took her to Harvard and Oxford, and then to Goldman Sachs. She mostly thanks her parents, who were among the first graduates at university in the Zambian capital Lusaka. They left Africa in search of further education in the early 1970s, when communications were rudimentary and leaving was a journey into the unknown. But when they could they hurried back to help build a future for their country.