Aid sceptics like to say that the west has spent trillions of more than a trillion dollars on aid to Africa since independence. See for example Dambisa Moyo in the Wall Street Journal or The Catholic Herald. Bill Easterly makes the same claim on page 4 of The White Man’s Burden. This claim is often made by people who argue that aid does not work.
Though the point is often made, it it isn’t true. According to OECD DAC statistics, since aid began in the 1960s donors have given a grand total of $502 billion to sub-Saharan Africa, which is worth about $866 billion in today’s prices. (Table 29; excludes debt relief.)
This is not trillions of dollars – not even one trillion dollars.
The G-20 countries have, over the whole history of aid, given less aid to sub-Saharan Africa than they spent on fiscal stimulus in the single year of 2009.
(This fact comes from my recent article, An Open Letter to Aid Skeptics, in the latest edition of the Center for International Relations Forum journal (pdf).)