The work for this study began as an investigation into the structure of West African trade and especially of monopolistic tendencies, undertaken at the request of the Colonial Office. For reasons stated in the introduction, its scope had to be extended substantially beyond the topics usually covered under these headings, and it broadened into a detailed study of West African trade and of those aspects of the West African economies which bear on trade. It was conducted under the auspices of the Colonial Economic Research Committee, which recommended to the Secretary of the State for the Colonies that it should be financed by a grant from Colonial Development and Welfare funds. The views expressed are not those of any government authority.
The collection and analysis of the material for this study were undertaken between the early part of 1949 and the latter part of 1952. The book deals mostly with basic factors and aspects of the West African economies largely unaffected by the political and economic developments of the last few years. But important changes have occurred in a number of subjects reviewed, notably such matters as the administration of trade controls and the policies of the marketing boards. It has not been possible to bring up to date the material beyond about the middle of 1952, and it should be remembered that the discussion refers to conditions at that time, and to policies pursued up to that time.
I have received much liberal help from both official and private sources. I was given free access to the relevant files of the Colonial Office, of the local governments and of the marketing boards. Moreover, not only was this material placed at my disposal, but much information was specially collected and tabulated by the authorities for the purpose of this inquiry. Both in Nigeria and in the Gold Coast the executives of the marketing boards have been of the greatest help in making information available. I have also had much assistance from the Department of Commerce and from the Department of Statistics both in Nigeria and in the Gold Coast.
The attitude adopted by the commercial firms has also been very liberal. I have been greatly assisted in my work by European, Levantine and African firms and merchants. I received much confidential information from the firms of John Holt and Company Ltd., A. G. Leventis and Company Ltd., and the United Africa Company Ltd.
The help I have received from the United Africa Company was especially generous. The Company made available to me much confidential information, and the material was given to me without