FIVE
THE COLONIAL PERIOD

Colonial Rule and Economic Life

The predominant purposes of British activity in the nineteenth century had been to transform the African societies of Ghana and Nigeria into free trading communities producing tropical raw materials and consuming British manufactures. British rule had been established to protect these economic interests. The new British colonies thus began with an already developed trading basis. At first the British administrations had little in the way of a positive policy of economic development. British liberal economic theory did not accept the idea that the state had any role in organizing production or in accumulating and investing capital, except in roads and harbors, and in colonial affairs it was axiomatic that a colony must live from its own resources, without subsidies from the metropolitan power. What the state refused, private British capitalists were no more willing to provide. The British economic interests in West Africa were dominated by traders and shippers, already making steady profits simply transporting and marketing African produce, and they showed no inclination to take risks by investing capital in new methods of production or in industrial development, with the sole exception of mining.

Despite this lack of any planned or purposeful action for economic development, the effects of the establishment of British rule upon the economies of Nigeria and Ghana were profound. The destruction of the independence of the African states which comprised the new colonies created free markets of a size hitherto unprecedented. Internal tolls on the movement of goods disappeared, and movement of persons became easy and safe. The suppression of internal

-141-

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Nigeria and Ghana
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Modern Nations In Historical Perspective i
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • One - The Land, the People, and the Politics Of Independence 1
  • Two - Origins 33
  • Three - The European Impact And the Slave Trade 71
  • Four - The Nineteenth Century 99
  • Five - The Colonial Period 141
  • Suggested Readings 165
  • Index 169
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