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Dear Afrik-IT colleagues,
my name is Helmut Zell, and I am economist and engineer.
In Tanzania I did empirical research for about one year on
the capital goods industry and its technological development
(dissertation). Later I worked three years for a rural
industrial development project in Botswana. At my present
job at a German bank, I am mainly involved in its activities
in countries of Northern Africa and the Middle East.
 
Regarding IT, I am interested in how this new technology
could be utilized for practical purposes, for business,
development activities, learning etc. To establish the
technical facilities of IT is just the first step; the
second important step is to find, develop and introduce
useful IT-applications for the day-to-day activities of
companies, universities and other organisations in Africa.
Only if this is achieved, IT will be able to contribute
substantially to the development of African countries. This
will be the major task for the future, and in my view, AFRIK-
IT has an important role in this.
 
Regarding the on-going discussion on the role and function
of aid in Africa, I would like to elaborate on a certain
aspect. Donors increasingly stress the responsibility of
African governments for the dismal economic and social
situation in Africa. Though this responsibility can not be
denied, yet the arguments of donors are largely determined by
hypocrisy.
First, stressing the inefficiency and malfunction to
goverments and the state apparatus seems to be mainly
motivited by the intention of donor countries to reduce the
amount of aid going to Africa. With the end of the East-West-
conflict, Africa has lost its political importance in the
global field.
Secondly, by identifying internal factors as decisive  for
development, donors try to blur the fact that their
activities also contributed to a great extent to the present
dismal situation in many African countries. The
disappointing results of aid in Africa has a lot to do with
the ineffective and inefficient instruments and ill-deviced
measures of foreign donor organisations. Through project
aid, employment of an increasing number of experts, the
starting of large numbers of new institutions (e.g. NGOs),
they systematically undermined the function of the state
apparatus. Since especially in recent years, donors had a
greater influence on the economic policies implemented in
these countries than the government itself, blaming the
governments now for failures and poor results of these
policies seems to be rather doubtful.
In my opinion, aid to Africa has to be reconsidered
fundamentally.
 
Helmut Zell, Frongasse 7, 53424 Remagen, Germany, Tel: +2642-1025