With both the Live 8 concerts and the G8 summit this July bringing the issue of aid to Africa to the fore, BBC Two's If... We Stop Giving Aid to Africa explores the controversies over how best to help lift Africa out of poverty.
Is cancelling debt and doubling all aid to Africa the only sure way to address the continuing humanitarian crises?
How would the continent cope if we stopped aid to Africa?
Or has experience shown that aid does not help the people who really need it, and the only solution is to pull out and let Africans re-build Africa themselves?
Have your say on the issues raised in the programme, by contacting us using the form below.
The views expressed on these pages will not necessarily be the views of the BBC. The e-mails published will reflect the balance of opinion received.
When the West keeps on talking about aid to Africa they are simply trying to mask the shameful trade injustice that is going on. We Africans don't need other poeple's money. We want to trade in a fair situation with everybody.
John Pawera, Cameroon
Africa does not need aid with conditions, we need trade. Aid has not helped Africa and it will never help Africa. Open your doors so we can all trade and benefit from each other.
Secondly Africa has beautiful places. Show them on your screens to promote tourism and stop showing the bad images. You will kill the African tourist industry with this attitude of yours.
Kwadwo Asare, Accra, Ghana
I think the aid needs to support trade, not as subsidy to control it, but to make sure people get a proper wage to give them freedoms like we can have. Africa could be the greatest source of hydrogen and bio fuel, given large scale projects in the Sahara. As oil prices go up, this could make a lot of Africa rich, so long as it is African business and not some intercorp who is doing it.
Of course aid should be stopped. Why should we be giving money to those countries where some despot or other is feathering their own nest and spending money on arms while the majority of the population go hungry.
John Marcus, Ballymena, United Kingdom
The solution to Africa's problems is a combined effort of aid and fair trade. It is of no use to give money when it could go into the wrong hands. What must be emphasised is that people are dying in the continent and if we can put an end to this we should do so with all the power that we possess. The Live 8 concert is to put not just Africa on the map but all countries in the world where people do not have enough to eat. Now is the time to realise that we have a surplus amount of everything while others have nothing.
Catherine Emenike, London, England
Finally, a debate based on economy and reality rather than emotional blackmail. The whole issue of Africa has been dominated by the aims of all those people in the West who either get directly paid by aid, or get their profiles raised through the good news coverage they receive. What Africa needs is for the West to lower its trade barriers, and let African nations trade with us on a level playing field.
For Africa to overcome its humanitarian crisis, social and political development should be the focus. These include access to education, combating diseases, adequate infrastructure, and stable political climate. With these in place, a level playing field in global trade will be necessary to improve Africa's socio-economic status. Aid is only a temporary measure.
Sigismond Wilson, Michigan USA
I want to congratulate you on this fantastic programme! It is one of the most interesting things I have seen on TV for a very long time. A beacon of good telly in Big Brother-land!
Stefan Eger, Brighton, England
Should aid be stopped? Well I'm not entirely convinced it's hitting the targets or working well ... but abandonment? That's a very tough call and I'm not sure in the current climate that many people would listen to those kinds of views - which is a shame.
Gary, Edinburgh, UK
I believe that aid should not be halted and that we should still give money to charitable causes for Africa but there should be a better infrastructure to these charities. People donate millions of pounds to these "Help Africa Funds" but we never see any change in Africa's immense need for money, food, shelter and basic amenities. I believe we leave to much up the corrupt officials in Africa. The money we donate lines their already stiff pockets, which is then used for presidential jets, luxury holidays, or international tuition for their children.
I may sound very one sided but there are no excuses for these fraudulent actions when there are millions of suffering men, women and children who need that money to survive and help rebuild their lives.
I believe the charities should be more hands on with the people of Africa and the corrupt officials should allow them access. There is no room for the middle man in this race.
David Lee Brandon, Hertfordshire, England
Very well argued. We give aid to Africa with one hand, and take it back with the other - not only directly, by spending the aid money in the West, but also indirectly, by for example, protecting our own farm products and keeping African farmers' products out of the world market.
Sarah Blackmun, Santa Barbara, USA
Stopping aid to African countries, particularly financial aid, will cause inevitable economic collapse for those countries whose economies haven't already. The short-fall of foreign currency will have a long run knock on effect leading to recession. It is imperative that inflow into these countries equals or exceeds previous years for there to be economic growth.
Simon, Manchester / Kenyan
For me, Zimbabwe sums up the attitude in Africa amongst African countries, and is the prime reason why we should not give aid. African countries tell us they do not want charity. African counties want to compete, be part of a fair world. Well that is fine, but African countries have the ideal chance with Zimbabwe to make a difference, to show that they can stand up on their own two feet, yet not one country has come out and slammed Zimbabwe. Not one. There is an epidemic of corruption and back-scratching in Africa and aid will make matters worse, not better. African countries have rights. They also have responsibilities. Sadly, they have yet to see that.
There is a barrier to overcome in countries which have gained independence. That barrier is the understandable bias against the previous order. As a South African I have seen first hand in recent years that actions of the administration are largely beyond reproach, because the right people are in charge. When the populace as a whole learns to critically appraise those actions and fight corruption wherever it appears, only then is the barrier overcome. Giving aid fuels this fire. Give them their independence, they can only learn from it.
Neil Cahill, Lincolnshire, UK
If there would be any aid at all, let it be towards education with its recipients most finely defined and the effects rigorously and untrustingly monitored. It's only when there's basic rural education that the barbaric culture would be successfully challenged. As for the cancellation of debt, now is definitely not the time as the effect on most Africans will remain negative.
Remi Shitu , Dartford, United Kingdom
I just cannot understand why there is so much ignorance and prejudice in the world. Stop the lies. we don't want your aid. Who said we want to live like you? Stock markets, insurance etc. I want to live in a society where people care for each other and not all things in monetary terms. What is worse than paying my own mum to look after my son, her grandchild?
Baabucarr Diaw, London
I think the best way to help people in Africa is to introduce contraception so they have less mouths to fed and to start giving them money to help themselves and not be like parents to them. If we teach them how to live an eco friendly life by growing their own food and giving them livestock instead of money they can find their own way out of poverty.
Charlotte, Newton Abbot, England
I lived and worked in Africa (Ethiopia, Sudan) for almost five years. Unfortunately the people who really are desperate for aid do not get it. Corrupt politicians are the ones who get richer by aid not the poor people. If there is no fundamental change in the way aid is granted there is little point in continuing.
Hana Blowers, Damascus, Syria
Dear BBC. Tell the international donors not to waste their money because the African politicians will use it to enrich themselves.
Kanjo, Bamenda, Cameroon
Parts of Africa have wealth like you wouldn't believe yet the people have nothing to show for it due to corruption. The G8 should focus on corrupt governments so that Africans can help themselves and each other although everyone knows this will never happen so why should we be expected to help?
Dave, Aberdeen, Scotland
So long as the likes of Mugabe are allowed to ravish the land and peoples of Africa with impunity, nothing can change for the better.
Richard Whidborne, Kenilworth, England
If Africa was free of conflicts, free of corruption and had leaders but not self-seeking rulers, the continent would not need aid. The continent could benefit more if the campaign for more aid was substituted for a campaign for good democratic and patriotic governance.
Godwin Kakuba, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
What about the rest of the world: South America, parts of Asia, and off course our own home charities? There is too much emphasis on Africa and most of the time it's a problem that they have generated themselves, basically through having too many children. How can they feed their children if they have 10 or 12. We must tackle the source of the problem rather than just giving money for the short term or for corrupted governments.
Ben, Wirral, UK
African countries are criticised for spending more money on fighting wars than feeding their people. But European countries and the USA are responsible for most of the wars going on now and in the past. I can't help thinking that if the people suffering in Africa were predominantly non-black, the question of stopping aid would not even arise. Hypocrisy reigns supreme!
Maria Philbin, Kent, UK
I feel that the donors should be directing their aid not at governments but at NGOs and credible private organisations in order to carry out developmental projects. Another alternative would be to directly fund Western companies to do projects in the continent. For example, Africa has a major problem with roads, hospitals and schools so it would be much better to get a company in the West to construct a road in an African country. There would be more transparency in the way the moneys are handled.
Okello, Gulu, Uganda
More aid should be sent to the continent only if the aid donors are ready to assist in the management of the given money. Part of the aid money should be used to hire international management consultants to assist the various African countries to make effective use of the money. If this is not done most of the money will end up in foreign accounts of callous African leaders and government administrators.
Will some financial supremo please tell us how much each one of us in the so-called rich countries need to give per annum to eliminate poverty, where to give it and to whom? I for one have experience of sponsoring in the Third World and can vouch for the fact that the amount asked for is "peanuts" in comparison to my earnings. It is less than the cost of one month's subscription to broadband per month. The people of these "rich" countries don't care about the politics, a child does not chose where it is born, it has a right to life and dignity. We all have a moral and a human duty to look after our own species and to establish a worldwide caring society that protects and nurtures its young wherever they may live.
Elaine Eden, Failsworth, Manchester
Aid to Africa hasn't prevented war, poverty, the spread of Aids, mismanagement, exploitation, or genocide. A loss of all aid will certainly plunge Africa into a crisis. But it will force Africa to seriously look at the troubles and issues afflicting the continent, and they will have to deal with them, not wait for the West to come and clean up their mess. Eliminate debt and eliminate aid.
Christopher D Magee, Fairfax, VA USA
The key to helping the people of Africa is not money from the West. The key is education. The leaders of Africa, all the way down to the local level, must be taught how to manage their economies and maximize their resources in order to bring up the standard of living for their people. This way the people of Africa can bring themselves out of poverty and remain self sufficient.
Logan, Mississippi, USA
Aid and debt relief may be part of the solution, but ultimately the solutions to Africa's problems lie in the hands of African people and in their ability to persuade the US and EU to abolish unfair trade rules.
Richard G Jones, Cardiff, Wales
If Western governments are serious about reducing poverty, they must change their disgusting trade practices. Aid may be halted, but if poor farmers can't access rich markets, then it will not make much difference. We must drop the barriers, put an end to tariffs and subsidies and allow those in the developing world to compete fairly.
Philippa Curran, Sydney, Australia
The only solution is to remove the tyrants from power and make Africa a "ward" of the West until new governments and a stabilized, self-sufficient economy is built from the ground up. This will take generations, but the alternative it that Africa will never pull itself out without food, education and opportunity within that same time period. Think "Marshall Plan" for Africa. This is the only viable solution. Let's admit this and start sooner rather than later to work together to solve this issue for the world's benefit.
Jim H, Sudbury, USA
I think that it is the responsibility of the governments of the countries who have exploited and, consequently, created a state of powerlessness for these populations to "fix" it as much as possible. That means European, America, and some Middle Eastern nations get off their superior duffs and take steps to establish fair and just governments as well as desperately needed infrastructure. To do anything else is irresponsible and cruel.
Melissa Thomas, New Haven, CT USA
Cancelling debt and providing aid are great humanitarian steps, however history has proven that this has not led to any improvement on the continent. Corruption runs rampant within governments, culturally many of its peoples just don't get along with each other, and overpopulation further compounds their problems. Before another dollar, pound or euro is provided, a detailed plan should be developed, by Africans, for a long-term solution to their plight.
Rob G, Kansas City, USA
It could be catastrophic if aid is stopped completely to Africa. The only reason why aid is not working so far is because of corrupt and greedy politicians who only think of themselves and not the people that elected them to office. In order for aid to work properly, the donors should identify the specific needs of the donee and set up a committee that will monitor and report back to the donor how the aid was utilized. This will help to ensure proper accountability and minimize embezzlement.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA
Do the views of ordinary Africans matter at all to the likes of Blair and his hopeless commission? If they do, does it matter that no ordinary African has ever asked anyone for aid? If not one of us has, then why does our plight get so shamelessly and cynically exploited in this way by a pack of self-serving rock stars and discredited politicians, when all we've ever wanted has been to be governed fairly responsibly at home?
If African rulers such as PM Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, who is a close ally of the West in fighting poverty, were to stop spending huge sums of money in buying armaments, there is a real chance of defeating poverty in Africa. However, the "friends" of Africa like PM Tony Blair should tell the leaders of Africa, "Guys you can't really scare away poverty with warplanes and tanks".
T. Negash, Germany
As an African, I believe it should be stopped. The West impose their ideas on Africa and reject any home-grown policy. This has led to misplaced priorities. Factories are erected where there is no electricity, roads are built where the people are thirsty and worse, the West insists on dictating politics as well.
Much of the aid ends up in the West anyway, either as looted funds or for arms purchases. All Africa has to show for it is the unpayable debt. And now, we are mockingly offered debt relief.
Keep your aid, then Africans will suffer and subsequently unite to solve their problem.
Emeka Obiodu, UK/Nigeria
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