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Africa Economic Brief – Volume 9 issue 04 - Africa’s Growth Trajectory: Lessons from History


Colonial economies were primarily based on agriculture, mining and commerce. Cash crops and minerals were exported with very little value added. Though Ghana emerged as the world’s leading producing of cocoa in 1911 and has been for centuries an important exporter of gold (hence its former name, the Gold Coast), it was not until 1963 that Kwame Nkrumah established a cocoa-processing factory in Tema and a gold refinery in Tarkwa. Outside South Africa, much of Africa lacked a significant industrial base. The colonial economy was more interested in raw materials. I have found the French Colonial Minister Albert Sarraut’s (1872– 1962) description of the colonial economy enlightening and discouraging.

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