Dambisa Moyo | The Global Thought Leader from Zambia

By Ebimo Amungo

Dr. Dambisa Moyo is an intellectual juggernaut who has sparred with Bill Gates, challenged ideological frameworks on which the world economy stands, and raised alarm that the world is tethering on the edge of chaos. And with four New York Times bestselling books, board membership of several companies, a continuous stream of appearances in the world’s leading media as well as countless public speaking engagements, this Zambian-born economist is arguably one of the foremost thought leaders in the world.

Dr. Dambisa Moyo describes herself as a Global Economist, Author, Investor in the future and Marathon Runner on her twitter handle. She had her early education in the Zambia, and started her university education there but had to relocate to America after a coup in her country.


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Dambisa Moyo earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA from American University, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a DPhil in economics from the University of Oxford.

In 2009, Dambisa was named to the list of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. A leader and influencer, Dambisa is a key participant in the world’s most prestigious economic conferences such as Bilderberg, Davos and the annual U.S. Federal Reserve Jackson Hole conference.

And as the corona virus pandemic ravages the global economy, Dambisa Moyo has called for a modern “Marshall Plan” for Africa, modelled after the big aid package that America provided European countries after the second world war, could prevent a humanitarian tragedy and pay dividends for generations.

Dr. Dambisa Moyo has written four New York Times bestselling books: Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (2009), How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices that Lie Ahead (2011), Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World (2012), and the most recent Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy Is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth – and How to Fix It (2018).

These thought provoking books have established Dambisa Moyo as one of the leading Global Thought Leader, making her a highly sought-after public speaker. Her insights have seen her appointed as a member of the board of several companies including 3M and Chevron.

Dambisa Moyo is a highly sought after public speaker

Leaning on her experience at the World Bank and Goldman Sachs where she held senior roles, Dambisa Moyo is frequently called upon by the world’s leading media outfits to weigh in on contemporary economic happenings.

In her first book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa, was a best-seller. Dambisa Moyo, argued that giving more aid to Africa over the course of the years did not alleviate poverty, instead it kept the economy crippled with governments asking for more aid.

Dambisa Moyo is a highly sought after public speaker

This fluke made a cycle of aid giving which resulted in nothing productive and it has not been used to solve the immediate problems and the money is not being used to make businesses sustainable in Africa.

 Bill Gates did not buy her view on aid and in 2013 famously said  Moyo “didn’t know much about aid and what it was doing in Africa,” adding that “Books like that are promoting evil.”  

Moyo responded “To say that my book ‘promotes evil’ or to allude to my corrupt value system is both inappropriate and disrespectful,” Moyo was  quick to point out her experience in the classroom, a PhD, and out, World Bank Consultant. She concludes that her experience being raised in Zambia provides her with a unique first-hand insight into poverty in Africa and the impacts of aid.

In her second book In How the West Was Lost, the New York Times bestselling author and economist Dambisa Moyo sheds light on how a host of shortsighted policy decisions have left the economic seesaw poised to tip away from the Western industrialized economies and toward the emerging world. Faced with this impending calamity, the West can choose either to remain open to the international economy or to close itself off, adopting protectionist policies that will give itself time and space to redress these pervasive structural problems.

The 51-year-old has been teaching classes to Harvard Business School students during lockdown as she juggles multiple board positions.

Moyo, is a keen runner who has run the London and New York marathons.

Dambisa Moyo is a keen runner

She lives in New York

Biography

Author Alex Kamau gives a detailed insight into this gem from Africa in the detailed biography in SAHistory

Dambisa Moyo is a renowned global economist. Born in Zambia she was exposed to the harsh economic realities that Africa faces early in her life. Dambisa Moyo was born in Zambia on February 2, 1969 to Stephen and Orlean Moyo. Her parents married while still attending The University of Zambia.

Her father was the son of a miner in apartheid South Africa, her mother the daughter of a man who would later train to be a teacher. Coming as they did from different tribes and from different parts of rural colonial Africa, they did not share the same language therefore, they mainly conversed in English. These factors would mold Dambisa the woman who would soon shape economics and become well known.

Upon graduation, her mother had up to eleven job offers. Her father wanted to continue his studies, and he was offered a scholarship at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the United States. It wasn’t too soon afterwards that her parents packed up sister and Dambisa and went to America. Their move was thoughtfully planned out. The goal of her parents was for her father to further his education in California. The next phase was for her mother to complete an advanced degree in Britain.  After it was all said and done then they would return to Africa. Her parents lived, worked, and studied in the USA for eight years and upon her father’s Ph.D. graduation in 1978, they readily moved back to Zambia, convinced that their future, and the futures of their children, were set.

Moyo had most of her schooling in Zambia where she completeed primary, secondary, and tertiary education, even attending the same college her parents had graduated from years earlier. She studied chemistry but her studies were interrupted by an attempted coup during the time of President Kenneth Kaunda. Although the coup was deemed unsuccessful, it led to his eventual downfall and it was enough to trigger Dambisa’s departure from Zambia in 1990. Just as her father had done, Moyo came to the United States to study. She ended up in the United States on a scholarship, eager to complete higher education and like both of her parents, certain that she would soon return to Zambia. She obtained her BS in Chemistry in 1991 followed by an MBA in Finance in 1993. She also earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at Harvard through John F. Kennedy’s School of Government in 1997. Last but not least, in 2002 she earned her PhD in Economics from St Antony’s College, Oxford University, England. 

Moyo’s career began with her employment at the World Bank in Washington DC for two years.  Her position there was consultant in the Europe, Central Asia and Africa department. In addition to co-authoring the World Bank’s annual World Development Report, her pursuit of her MPA and PhD degrees at Harvard and Oxford gave Dambisa the opportunity of a lifetime. Moyo joined Goldman Sachs, one of largest investment firms in the world, as a research economist and strategist in 2001 where she worked mainly in debt capital markets, hedge funds coverage, and global macroeconomics being part of the company until November 2008. Another part of her job at Goldman Sachs was spent advising developing countries on the issuing of bonds on the international market and she was also head of Economic Research and Strategy for Sub–Saharan Africa. This set the stage for Moyo’s future career, concerning the welfare of other nation states, especially the continent of Africa.

Moyo worked on various boards after her time at Goldman Sachs. First, she was on the Board of directors of a brewery called SABMiller in 2009, where she was chairman of the company’s Corporate Accountability and Risk Assurance Committee (CARAC). The job of this committee was to oversee the company’s responsibilities in relation to corporate accountability which includes sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, corporate social investment, and ethical commercial behavior. The following year, Moyo became a part of the board of directors of Barclays Bank. For that board position, she would sit on three of the board’s committees: the Audit Committee; the Conduct, Operational and Reputational Risk Committee; and the Financial Risk Committee. A year later, in 2011 she joined the board of directors of the international mining company Barrick Gold, once again sitting on multiple committees, handling multiple groups simultaneously.

In 2009, Dambisa Moyo wrote and published her first book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa which became a New York Times bestseller. This book launched Moyo into the spotlight and made her a desired speaker, expert, and author. That same year she was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader as well as one of TIME’s 100. Another achievement, she was recognized as one of Oprah Winfrey’s “20 remarkable visionaries”.

Her book helped set in motion her worldwide travel while investigating and analyzing economic situations, and logging her findings. By 2015, she had already travelled to more than 75 countries where she would examine the political, economic, and financial structure of these developing economies. At this point she had become a regular columnist and would contribute to many financial and multinational business publications. Also, a speaker at conferences and other events world-wide, Moyo has written and lectured on topics ranging from global markets, to the influence of geopolitics on the economy, to prospects of the job market and the awareness of China’s growth. All of these components combined to tell the past and future routes of interest rates. In 2011, she wrote her second book titled How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices that Lie Ahead. It was also a New York Times bestseller. The following year she wrote her third book. Titled Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World which also became a New York Times bestseller. However, her biggest point of influence is her public speaking. Through lectures and interviews she has given talks to the most prominent of audiences. Being a member of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Global Economic Imbalances, Moyo spoke at its annual conference in 2005. In 2009, she was a speaker at the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Enterprise Institute, and was one of the two debaters on the winning side of the 2009 Munk Debate, where they talked about foreign aid.

Moyo is arguably one of the fiercest economists in the world with her view on how to continue down the road of economic prosperity in Africa. She has drawn criticism from many for her books and lectures. In one article called “Money for Nothing?” she makes the argument which is one she has reiterated time and time again: “Moyo acknowledges that ‘doing business in Africa is a nightmare,’ but argues that cutting off aid can only help, by forcing nations to make themselves attractive to private investment.”

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