Emaciation of African Economies I: The Slave Trades, 1451–1830

  • Matthew Kofi Ocran
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


Ocran discusses the far reaching effects of the sixteenth to eighteenth century Atlantic slave trade on Africa’s development trajectory. He reviews the competing estimates of the volumes and trends on one hand and the impact on the economic fortunes of the continent on the other. Unlike colonialism, which in most instances lasted for less than one hundred years, the slave trade lasted for more than three hundred years, devastating local institutions with grave socio-economic distortions. Ocran also suggest that the slave trade underpinned world trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and supported capital accumulation in western European countries, particularly the United States, Great Britain and France. The cheap African labour in the plantations and mines in the America’s provided considerable economic surpluses for the western European countries involved in the trade. Among the negatives from the slave trade were: debilitating impact on population size, which discouraged the development of land markets; disincentivizing legitimate commodity trade with Europe and breeding mistrust among local African population.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Kofi Ocran
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of the Western CapeCape TownSouth Africa

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