Bill Gates to mythbust on Sweden visit

US billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates is set to speak at Sweden's lauded Karolinska Institute on Monday, in an address professing hope that poverty can be eradicated despite persistent myths about development and aid.

Bill Gates to mythbust on Sweden visit
Bill Gates. File photo: AP

The presentation, The world is getting better – how we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime, will be livestreamed on the Karolinska website. It is slated to start at 9:45am (CEST)

The talk will be chaired by Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health.

Gates, who with his wife runs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that wields a $40-billion budget, is likely to address the three "myths" he identified in his new-year letter on development.

The first, a simplified and incorrect view that countries with extensive poverty have not or will not develop. Gates pointed out that it was pointless to compare, for example, China to Congo despite both countries' challenging starting points a few decades ago. 

"Some so-called developing countries have come so far that it’s fair to say they have developed," he wrote. "A handful of failed states are hardly developing at all. Most countries are somewhere in the middle." 

A second myth he has set out to bust is that saving more lives would lead to overpopulation. He underlined that educated women take a greater responsibility for family planning. 

The final myth, which may be held up for particular scrutiny in Sweden where bilateral aid has been reformed by the government and its former aid minister Gunilla Carlsson, is that development aid is pointless.

Gates appeared to pin some of the waning public support in for example the UK for overseas aid on bitty news reporting, focusing on project-specific failures rather than the big picture.

"If you hear enough of these stories, it’s easy to get the impression that aid just doesn’t work," Gates wrote.  

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