Africa is testing the unconditional basic income


The unconditional basic income will enable people to survive without further income. In rural areas in Africa 20 dollars in a month should be sufficient for that. In six countries the Test is running.

627 million people in the world live in poverty, 431 million of which come from Africa alone. More than a third of the African population lives below the poverty line, which, according to the world Bank Definition at 1.90 US dollars on the day. Solution approaches to the distribution of relief supplies, educational projects and the improvement of infrastructure. A competing approach is the world, in many countries, in the interview: unconditional basic income. In Finland, a model test runs with up to 2000 participants – the Swiss voted in in 2016, a referendum with a large majority against the introduction of an unconditional basic income. Currently the concept is being tested in six African countries.

The Vision of unconditional basic income to every citizen, promises enough money to ensure its existence. It doesn’t matter whether you work and what you do with the money. The basic income is to enable each citizen to a self-determined life. A main reason for the rise in the popularity of the concept is “the ongoing debate about the changes in the labour market and the Acquisition of Jobs by machines,” says Luke Martinelli, an economist at the University of Bath in the West of England. “The basic income would secure the people and allow them to take risks and the self-employed or fixed-term Jobs.” That’s the theory. But can it work?

As 20,000 volunteers in Kenya

Since the beginning of 2018, a non-profit Organisation GiveDirectly conducts an Experiment to test the efficiency of this idea. “In Africa, we are in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda actively, have now begun to make payments in Liberia, and to build us just in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Malawi,” said Joe Huston, chief financial officer of GiveDirectly. Overall, the condition 100,000 households with a basic income. 60 million dollars annually are needed alone for the first four countries. In October 2016, a two-year pilot project started in a village in Bondo district of Kenya. Since January, 2018 20,000 adults from nearly 300 villages in the regions of Siaya, and Bomet to the subsidies, told Huston.

The organization is testing three different models of payment. The impact of a basic income to the recipient will be determined by comparison with a test group, which gets no money. One group will be for twelve years, a basic income of about US $ 20 per month, which will be transferred via a Mobile-Money procedure to the mobile phone and in the bar can be lifted. A second group receives monthly the same amount for a total of two years, and the third group will receive a one-time payment of 500 US dollars, which corresponds to the total of the income of the second group.

In such Mobile-Money services, the receiver can withdraw your a basic income in cash

A third of the people in the regions of Siaya and Bomet are living below the Kenyan poverty line, which has been established by the government on a monthly Per capita income of US $ 15 for country residents and $ 28 for city residents. “You have no money, you save or fertilizers, machinery, or investing in education,” says Martinelli. The economist believes that the recipient of unconditional basic income are dependent, but “in your life and in the future, and then in a better position to be investing”.

Greenhouses, saving groups and school fees

“It is exciting to walk through a village in Kenya, where everyone gets the money,” says Huston. “People have found a thousand ways to create it.” A family had built a greenhouse for your farm. Other families had clubbed together to pay for the weekend for a tutor for their children. Some would together save money: Every member of the community pay into a Fund, on a monthly basis a Person get money for a larger investment, for example the purchase of livestock, payment of school fees or improvements to the home.

Savings groups are one of many ways to create money

Even in welfare States such as the United Kingdom, in which not all of the people with their work, earn enough, could improve the unconditional basic income, the situation, says Martinelli. It could be widely implemented, does not believe the economist: “From the political and financial perspective, I’m skeptical. The implementation of the concept will cost a lot of money that you can use also different.” The government of Canada has stopped in August, an Experiment on unconditional basic income, because it was “too expensive and unsustainable”.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

GiveDirectly is financing the project in Africa through donations from individuals and organizations such as the Open Society Foundation. “It is a lot of money we have to spend” admits chief financial officer Huston, “and then the question is whether it is worth it.” Huston argues with the costs of development assistance: According to the Organisation for Economic co-operation and development (OECD) have been spent around the world by 2017, nearly 150 billion dollars. The donations to charity reached in 2018 in the United States alone, more than 400 billion US dollars. Compared with these sums, it would be comparatively cheap to pay for across the Board grants, so that no person in the world would have to live under the national poverty line: according to Huston, it would require 80 billion dollars per year.

“What would you do if your income would be taken care of?”, ask this 8000-square-meter Installation in Geneva

In General, the unconditional basic income would be the costs and Benefits outweighed, Huston. The use of the money for harmful purposes, for example for the purchase of alcohol, neither Huston nor Martinelli as critical, “but the Argument that poor people are not allowed to decide for themselves how they want their money to spend, is dangerous,” says Martinelli. He feared rather, that the extra money could entice people to work more.

Figures about the actual effect of a basic income in Kenya, it has not been found. A pilot project in Namibia, however, was from 2007 to 2009 promising results: According to the Basic Income Grant Coalition had gone in the test area by the unconditional basic income, 90 percent more children to school, child malnutrition dropped from 42 percent in November 2007 to 10 percent in November 2008. Whether the concept works in Kenya as well, to show up in 2019, when for the first time, data will be collected.