Negative impact of colonialism on Africa’s Development

colonial Africa

Foreign powers colonized almost all states of African. Africans stayed under the rule of their colonizers for many decades until they started fighting back and regained their independence. However, a lot of damage had already been done, with the biggest being a cultural mix. Many Africans forgot their cultures and ethnic ways of life and adapted to how their colonizers lived. The results include foreign languages being used as official national languages, far from native tongues.


Colonialism is the direct and overall domination of one state by another, with the state powers being in the hands of a foreign government. European powers colonized most African countries; for example, Nigeria and Kenya were colonized by Britain. Colonial authority seeks first for political domination, then to exploit the colonized country for natural resources and workforce.

Colonization in the African context took place between 1800 and 1860s. It is the same as imperialism and they walk hand in hand. It is often said colonialism is imperialism. Note, however, that not all imperialism is colonialism. Colonialism started with the changes in the European production model, like the emergence of the industrial revolution, which ushered in a new era of production, different from the earlier form of slave-trade. Slave-trade and slavery had fulfilled its function of offering primitive capital, but the emergence of industrialization came with a different set of needs. There was a need for fuel and other raw materials to run the machines, which lead to the colonization of Africa. In this study, we look at the negative impacts of colonialism on the African continent.  

Reasons for colonization

One of the significant factors that led to the scramble and petition for Africa, as discussed above, was the emergence of an industrial revolution. It rapidly affected the socio-economic and technological transformation across Europe. Agriculture alone was no longer enough to supplement the required raw material for running different industries. The European countries needed a quick solution, which led them to invade Africa. For instance, in Britain, the rural population was not getting enough food to cater for the growing urban population. At the same time, production lines needed a market for their products, which was not enough internally. The technology was taking over the region, new products coming up at a faster rate than ever requiring a more suitable and fast solution. The issue of low-wages for paid workers made it even harder for Britain to sustain the growing needs of her population. The idea of imperialism was born from this process of investing in surplus capital. Europe needed African laborers to work for her in Africa, digging up riches and transporting it back home to supplement different production needs.

The colonists needed to take full control of the African economic and political administration. This was aimed at producing the food required for their people at home. They also wanted to make it possible for the integration of the African market into the rest of the world for easy management and transportation. Africa was booming with natural beauties and untouched resources, full of raw materials for her people, which colonizers found easy for taking. The Europeans brought in a lot of capital as well, and it was supposed to be protected through direct control. Africa did not have any form of technology to take care of significant operations as those introduced by the colonizers. Taking direct control meant that governments would form laws that would force Africans to abandon their ways of like and conform to the new system. Hence, the direct colonization of African nations gave birth to imperialism.

To ensure imperialism was successful, colonizers employed different strategies that could ensure total submission and obedience to the colonial rules. They used conquest, taxation, forced labor, payment of low wages, and many other approaches. The first method was through conquest, in which the African nations were conquered politically, economically, culturally, and socially. They were enslaved in their land and made to feel like they don’t have a home. Conquest, even though technology ensured the European took full control of their colonies. Then they introduced forced labor, which ensured that colonialists maintained direct control. After this, they removed occupancy rights for lands from African making them lose their homes.

Therefore one of the major effects of colonization on Africans was the loose of rights to own land. The colonizers took charge of whatever land they wanted. But Africans were not willing to leave their lands and work in the settler’s farms. The colonizers used confiscation to take charge and sent Africans into forced labor. Later, the monetization of the African economy with foreign currency made it even harder for Africans to survive on their own. This followed taxation, which was introduced, insisting on being paid in the colonial currency. Those who failed to pay were harassed, and their properties confiscated.

Major effects of colonization

Many writers and economists, until today, feel like Africans would be at the same level of development as Europe in terms of the economy, were it not for colonization. This is to say, one of the major impacts of colonization is under-development in the African territories. Though it is argued that colonialism brought education and healthcare transformation, which appears on the surface to be a positive contribution, there was a hidden agenda behind it. A thorough look will reveal a great shallowness and emptiness that it may be partly responsible for the under-development. It was meant only to produce labor force for the Europeans, without any linkage to the natives’ needs.

Colonialism troubled and distorted the African system of education. Before being colonized, Africa was a vibrant continent full of life and natural resources. The Europeans introduced a pattern of the international division of labor, which was not in favor of the colonized nations. Africans were only allowed to deal with certain types of business, which were not as profiting. This disarticulation of goods produced by African meant they could only manufacture products for export, compelling them to abandon food production.

It was not very to colonize Africa. The chiefs and the people were not going to take it lying down. They later penetrated the hinterland or the interior, some using collaborators. As mentioned earlier, they came for raw material as a result of the industrial revolution. The African colonies were divided and grouped into different categories. The new colonial policies had far-reaching consequencescolonial Africa, which included economic draw-back and political under-development. We can conclude that it was a great disservice to the continent.


1083 Words


Mar 11, 2020


3 Pages

Looking for a professional

Order Now