Good money after bad?
The effectiveness, or not, of aid to Africa is an issue which comes up all the time on Newsnight. This week we spoke to Oprah Winfrey (which you can watch here) about the $40m she has spent establishing a leadership school for girls in South Africa. We also reported how, five years after the war in Sierra Leone and many millions spent in aid and debt cancellation, health provision is getting worse not better.
Many are wondering these days if much of the money we spend trying to help Africa isn't good money after bad. Col Tim Collins has even gone as far as to suggest that the $14bn spent annually on UN peacekeeping in Africa has achieved absolutely nothing. Indeed, two of the countries most in receipt of western attention in recent years, Ethiopia and Somalia, have been at war over Christmas.
So, could there be a better way? As part of a series of films on Newsnight next week about how technology is changing the world our business correspondent Paul Mason will be reporting on how the advent of the mobile phone in Africa is helping to provide better services, economic growth and even democratic rights where governments and agencies have dismally failed.
As one young Kenyan puts it, we know from years of experience that governments have been unable to deliver better conditions, so why do we keep giving them money?
Paul's film goes out on Monday, but you can watch it first and exclusively here and let us know what you think.