African business, politics and lifestyle
Aid to Africa — just a lottery?
French Secretary of State for Cooperation Alain Joyandet is floating the idea of an on-line lottery to raise aid for Africa.
The plan is pretty modest – the aim is to raise around 10 million euros a year for projects such as boosting school access to girls in Africa.
Critics are already writing it off as an empty gesture, particularly as Africa is suffering from billion-dollar aid shortfalls as recession hits rich donor countries.
To put it in perspective, the World Food Programme said last month it had received just $3.7 billion of the $6.7 billion it needs this year — a shortfall that would take 300 years of such lottery takings to plug.
Some dismiss the plan as yet another PR gimmick intended to gloss over years of exploitation of the continent by rich world.
Others wonder whether it is really in the best of taste to link aid to the world’s poor with a game of chance.
“Yet again, it is really shows a lack of respect for Africa,” a contributor by the name of Aboubacar wrote on Joyandet’s blog.
Joyandet counters that this is an example of the “innovative funding” needed to raise awareness off Africa’s plight among a media-overloaded public.
The idea in itself is not new — the United Nations and others have toyed with the idea in the past.
There have even been suggestions that you could “piggy-back” well-established national lottery systems with games whose revenues would then target specific issues — a scratch card lottery for AIDS orphans, for example.
It is sensitive ground. But could they ultimately capture the public imagination in the same way that the Live Aid concerts launched in 1985 did?