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The economic activities in pre-colonial Africa

The environment as an entity does influence economic activities and there is a strong relationship between the environment and economic activities. Several economic activities developed amongst the different people of Africa ranging from:

  • Agriculture which involved the growing of crops and rearing of animals.
  • Handcrafts industries which depended on skilss or hand to make and produce goods.
  • Mining concerning with the process of extracting underground minerals for man‟s use.
  • Trading involving the buying and exchanging of goods and services.
  • Fishing, lumbering, Hunting and gathering all these differed from area to area. Basing on the environment and the skills that the people living in a given community were gifted with.


It is believed that in Africa, agriculture started about 6000 years ago. The use of discovered tools and weapons led to the development of crop cultivation and domestication of animals. True plant domestication probably began when the weakest plant were rejected and only seeds from the strongest plants were set aside for re-sowing mainly yielding grasses (cereals) and the same applied to animal domestication.

The Relationship between Agriculture, the Environment and Technological Development

Show the relationship between agriculture, the environment and technological development

Contributions of technological development to development of agriculture;

After a through look into different agricultural practices that existed in Africa, it is equally paramount to know the contributions of technology to the development of agriculture in Africa.

The increased use of iron tools amongst the different societies of Africa, led to the increase of land for cultivation, which resulted into increased agricultural productivity. The food storage skills insured an insurance against loss of future crops through natural disasters such as drought or flood thus food supply throughout the year. Some communities whose soils easily exhausted developed the use of manure which renewed the land and thus increased production. The development and use of irrigation opened up the once un-cultivatable to be productive for agriculture once again.

Not only did the technological improvement contribute to the development of agriculture but also the environment had the great bearing on the development of agriculture in Africa.

The reliable rainfall supplemented with the fertile soils in given areas resulted in the development of permanent crop agriculture or cultivation accompanied with increased agricultural production

Pest free and disease free areas were suitable for both crop and animal husbandry, as they would attract settlement. Also in place is the availability of iron technology in given societies making it possible for the making of iron tools which advanced on the methods of production and thus increased productivity.

It ensured man with reliable food supplies, The impacts of agricultural development are immeasurable as it ensured man with reliable food supplies, permanent settlement, labour specialization and surplus production and thus increase in population.

Farming was not suitable in every environment, the disadvantage of settled farming may also have been apparent through farming could support a larger population; it left the people more exposed to the dangers of famine caused by natural disasters such as drought and floods.

The Types of Agricultural Practices in Africa

Explain the types of agricultural practices in Africa

Different types of agriculture developed in the different African societies these included:

  • Permanent crop cultivation
  • Mixed farming
  • Pastoralism
  • Shifting cultivation

Successful agriculture depended on the ecology or natural fertility of the soil, adequate rainfall, technical skills of the famers and the ability to find most suitable and successful crops. However, this was not a simple task as it required patience and the ability to learn more from experience. It was the trial and error system.

Permanent crop cultivation

This involved the growing of perennial crops as potatoes, bananas, yam, beans and maize on a permanent basis. This was majorly employed in areas where there was extra land. Not every society could practice this form of agriculture but the environment dictated the terms.

Areas that received heavy and reliable rainfall were free from pests and diseases, having fertile soil did serve best for permanent crop cultivation. With the development of iron technology societies which practiced this moved from communalism to feudalism. In East Africa it was majorly practiced in the interlacustrine regions such as Buganda, Kagera Kenyan highlands, Ankole around Mount Kilimanjaro, parts of Kigoma and rungwe. In West Africa in the Fante, Yoruba, Ashanti, Ife and Akwam.

With the development of permanent crop cultivation people begn to live in larger, more permanent settlement, the permanence of settlement quickened the development of instrument production, there were increase in population as a result of improved diet, food supply became more regular and abundant, brought important social as well as technical changes many developed into centralised states for example Fante, Benin, Oyo and Meroe.

Lastly was the development of handcrafts industries such as iron smelting and social differentiation.

Mixed farming

This is an agricultural system which involves growing of crops and rearing of animals on the same piece of land. It evolved in areas which supported both pastoralism and crop cultivation. Crops grown in this agricultural practice included cereals such as millet, sorghum, cassava and maize animals kept included cattle, goats, sheep, cows and donkey.

Small Scale Mixed farming - Free ZIMSEC & Cambridge Revision Notes

The mixed farmers existed because the areas they lived had unreliable rainfall and their soils could easily be exhausted so one thing had to supplement the other. Mixed farmers in East Africa included the Gogo, Sangu, Sukuma, Kurya and Fipa in Tanzania, Luyia in Southwest Kenya, the Basoga and Gisu of Eastern Uganda. The relation of production was mainly communal with low production, division of labour based on age and sex

The mixed farmers in East Africa demonstrated achievement in their practices as they developed centralised political organisations for example the Busoga in Uganda under Omuloki, specialised in different activities. Specialisation in these societies resulted into development of trade, at first it was among the mixed farmers and later it resulted in the formation of long distance trade.

Shifting cultivation

This involves spending a given period of time working on land and moving from one area that is exhausted to a new fresh piece of land. It was mainly practiced by the people who lived in grassland plateaus for example Miombo wood land savanna in central Tanzania were the rainfall was little and unreliable and the soil could be easily exhausted

These soils could support the growth of cassava, sorghum, maize, millet, cowpeas, pumpkins plus many more other crops.the rearing of livestock was made difficult due to the fact that these areas were infected with tsetse flies and other livestock diseases. The soils that easily became exhausted necessitated people to move from one place to another in search of the fertile piece of land. However people in some communities were living a settled life even if they were practicing this type of agriculture.


This involves the keeping of livestock. The herding of domestic animals (cattle, sheep or goats), which were real and potential source of food particularly; milk, meat, animal skins and the herds were also exchanged with the different neighboring societies.

Areas with semi arid and arid conditions like scanty rainfall, (rainfall that is just enough to support the growth of pasture), poor soils which could only support pastoralism as the major economic activity within the area. In East Africa the dry areas include the lift valley areas of Tanzania and Kenya comprising of societies like the Maasai, Nyaturu, Barbaig and the karamanjong in Uganda.

Where the people were largely pastoralists their settlement tended to be less permanent as they moved in search of varying season pastures and water.

These people had no centralised political system they used the age set system in their production and they also kept large herds because of their use value and prestige.

How Agriculture Changed Man’s Life

Explain how agriculture changed man’s life

The development of agriculture changed man’s life in various ways, for instance;

  • with the development of permanent crop cultivation people began to live in permanent settlement,
  • there was increase of population,
  • development of instruments of productions,
  • development of centralized states,
  • development of trade, and
  • the division of labour.

Handicrafts,Industries and Mining in Pre-Colonial Africa

Handcrafts can be defined as the art of using your skills and hand to designs and fashion things, or it’s an activity done with on’s hands requiring artistic skills. Such goods may include tools, baskets, and cloth to mention but a few. In pre-colonial Africa different hand crafts industries emerged as man specialized on to other activities apart from agriculture. These included iron making industries, basketry, spinning and weaving cloth making, carving, canoe making and many more.

The Meaning of Handcrafts, Industries, and Mining

Explain the meaning of handcrafts, industries, and mining

Mining industries:

Are industries which involve the process of extracting underground minerals such as copper, gold, tin and salt mining industries.

An industry is a place where transformation of raw materials into finished goods is carried out. The natural resources that existed in a given society determined the nature of industries to be found in a given area.

Mining industries


The Types of Industries and Their Advantages in Pre-Africa

Differentiate the types of industries and their advantages in pre-Africa

Types of industries

  • Iron industries
  • Salt making
  • Copper industry
  • Handcrafts industries

Iron industries.

The discovery of iron resulted in drastic socio-political and economic changes. The people who were dealing in iron were called blacksmiths a person whose job is to make and repair things made with iron, learns how to identify rocks containing iron ore.

In the way of trying to maintain monopoly over the knowledge of iron making it was kept as a secret and in many societies it was even ritualised (made a religious thing). Different society had different beliefs as many believed that the women were not allowed to furnace as it was presumed that the iron would be spoilt.

Methods of obtaining and processing iron:

Blacksmiths identified the rocks that were bore iron ore collecting them and smelting the iron found in the trenches or clay furnaces. They had to use charcoal fuel and maintained the high temperatures in the furnaces by fanning the live charcoal with bellows. The smelted iron was then shaped into different forms and tools like spear heads, knives, axes, panga and wire. The places where the iron industries were found included the Venda people of Northern Transvaal, the Mashona people of Zimbabwe, the Iteso of Eastern Uganda, along Kilambo falls, Futa Djalon, Meroe and many others.

Salt making industries

Salt is not only a food ingredient but was also used to preserve food. The increased use of salt resulted into the development of trade and agriculture as salt led to more food production, the use of salt was found in almost all communities as it was important in different communities.

Salt making industries

Methods of obtaining and processing salt:

There are four methods of obtaining and processing salt in different communities, these included:

Traditional method

Under the tradition method salt was obtained from the reeds growing in marshy areas, gathered, dried and burnt to ashes. The ashes were then collected, filtered and the liquid was boiled to evaporate, the residue was used as salt. The Manganja people settled along Lake Nyasa commonly used this method.

Mining of salt bearing rocks

Rocks contained salt was dug out and the crystals were used. In here the rocks that contain salt are identified and are dug out, it is probably the most commonly used method of obtaining and processing salt. Place were it is used include Kasese, Bilma, Taghaza, Katwe and many others.

Boiling and evaporation

Under this method as the spring waters boil underneath the earth’s surface, they do evaporate and spill over the land surface where they cool to form salt crystals which crystals are used as salt. This was commonly practiced in Uvinza, Shinyanga and also among the Venda people.

Developed among the coastal regions

Along the coastal regions salty waters were trapped into pans and left to evaporate the heat of the sun. The crystals that did remain behind after the evaporation of salty waters were then used as salt.

Gold industries

Gold is one of the most precious minerals and it was not found in every area as other minerals which makes it precious and valuable. The communities that mined gold showed drastic social, political and economic developments.

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Methods of obtaining and processing gold

Panning method

This method was commonly carried out along the river beds where alluvial gold was extracted. It was somehow tiresome as people had to try several times in order to obtain the mineral. This method was common among the Sabi people living along river Zambezi

Shaft method

This method was commonly used in the areas with gold veins. Here the gold was dug out by using wooden, stone and iron hammers, then collected in wooden baskets and taken to furnaces were it was turned into different ornaments such as bangles, earrings plus many more.

Copper industries

The copper industry is believed to be the oldest industry that existed in almost all pre colonial African societies. Different societies did participate to the industries due to the fact that the copper existed in their communities.

Methods used in obtaining and processing copper

Identification of a copper belt

The copper was dug out and then taken to the furnaces where it was smelted. The smelted copper was turned into different tools which were relatively important to the society for example wire traps, knives axes etc. the areas that carried out this included places where the copper belt were found for example the Katanga copper belt and Kasese.

Handcrafts industries

Cloth making industries (weaving and spinning):

These industries were concerned with making clothes and developed in areas where cloth making materials were available. Spinning and wearing, making of bark –cloth developed in areas with cotton and appropriate tree barks.


Famous spinning and weaving societies in Africa include Yoruba people of West Africa, Sumbawanga in Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique as well as the people found in Lake Rukwa valley in Tanzania as for bark cloth areas North of Lake Victoria, interlacustrine societies for example in Buganda they used the Mvule tree to make (Olubugo) bark cloth which was very expensive and it was only the rich and the nobles who could afford it

Basketry and carpentry

Closely associated with agrarian societies whose style of life was more complex and sophisticated and in places that were privileged with palm and special reeds holding vessels specialised in the making of baskets and mats plus special leather work was needed for making leather clothes, sandals, bags, and beddings from animal skins and hides. It‟s associated with pastoralists such as Tuareg, Beja, Ajar, and Somali who made tents.

UNHCR - Burundian mother stands out in male-dominated carpentry class in Tanzania

Canoe making

The art of making canoes developed in areas bordering lakes, rivers and oceans. Different societies who carried this had their major economic activity as fishing which in many cases supplemented agriculture.

This therefore means that nature of resources available in a given society determined the nature of handcrafts industry present in that society.

Trade in pre colonial Africa

Trade refers to the exchange of goods or services with money or other goods or is the buying and selling of goods

The development of agriculture brought important economic changes as people were now able to produce surplus food which is more than needed to feed their own immediate family thus the surplus could be traded between neighboring settlement in exchange for raw materials luxuries and other items not produced within the community

It is clear that societies are not fully self sufficient. Therefore, interactions say between pastoralists with cultivators and agriculturalists with craftsmen in order to exchange goods are required. The major means of distributions from one hand to another were through gifts, tributes and taxation.

The exchanges carried out were not aimed at getting profit but it was after the use value of commodities and also strengthening relations. For example a person who exchanged his cattle with millet was not in search of profit.

Before the emergence of groups of people who specialised in trade the exchange system was barter this involved the exchange of goods for goods.

As societies developed trade development was also inevitable basing on the fact that some societies were not having specific resources which could only be obtained through the exchange. Increase in surplus production supplemented with the development of industries, the presence of safe routes and the regional specialisation not forgetting the love for adventure cemented the development and expansion of trading activities in pre colonial Africa.

The expansion of trading activities resulted into two major types of trade emerging in pre colonial Africa.

  1. The local trade (internal exchange relations). This developed within given community.
  2. Regional trade (long distance trade). Where there emerged groups of people who specialized and could buy goods from producers in order to sell them later at a profit.

The Uses of Different Types of Minerals in Pre-Colonial Africa

Explain the uses of different types of minerals in pre-colonial Africa

All in all the handcrafts and mining industries had far reaching effects to the communities and societies of pre colonial Africa. Increased food production was evident as tool of production was improved up on through the technological development, trade was also increased as the volume of food traded and the demand increased this in turn acted as a source of income to many societies which later rose socially, politically and economically more settled populations and communities new political system and organizations, the blacksmith became recognized, influential and famous people in the society, the iron tools could dig and cut faster and deeper than the stone tools and many others.

Trade in Pre-Colonial Africa

The Basis of Trade in Pre-Colonial Africa

Explain the basis of trade in pre-colonial Africa

Local trade

This was conducted from the village among the homogenous community, it did not require specific places to act as a markets, there was no need of middle men as goods passed freely from the hands of producers to consumers.

Many pre colonial African societies at first developed this trade as it availed them with the commodities they needed with much ease. People living within a given community exchanged commodities amongst themselves in order to fill the missing link; for example, cultivators could exchange their food with the livestock from the pastoralists, other commodities exchanged included iron tools, ornaments, animal skins and agricultural produce.

Generally speaking, the exchange which started with the intention to cement the existing social bonds amongst the different societies resulted in the growth of several industries, simulation of production for goods required in the exchange. It also led to the increase in incomes of the people who actively participated in the trade, the emergence and development of relationships among people of different localities for example the Sukuma trading with the Maasai and also the availability of all goods in the community brought about by increased production and the expansion in the exchanges.

The Types of Trade, Types of Commodities and the Societies Involved

Identify the types of trade, types of commodities and the societies involved

Regional trade

Trade between East and Central Africa started from the 1st millennium AD as they traded in raffia cloth, ivory and hides, copper from Katanga exchanged with salt from Uvinza.

This was concerned with the exchange of goods with people from different regions. This called for specialisation and dealt with the commodities which were relatively scarce and geographical un evenly distributed among the people of different ethnic groups. Regional trade involved different regions in the trading process. In East and Central Africa it came to be known as long distance trade while in West Africa it was called trans Saharan trade.

Long Distance Trade

It is called long distance trade simply because it was carried out long distance as people/traders had to move for long distance going on exchanging goods with other societies and the major aim was to get profit for example a salt traders was exchanged salt foe hoes not because he wanted to use hoes but he wanted re sell them at a profit later.

Professional traders (trade being their major occupation) came from Yao, Chewa and Bissa of Central Africa. Imbangala and vimbundu from Angola, Dyula merchants and the Marabouts of West Africa. In East Africa the Nyamwezi, Yao and Kamba were famous long distance traders, through trading and supplying ivory, slaves and copper to the exterior of East Africa Indian ocean coast. This organisation required fixed places to act as markets and the use of middlemen as the entrepreneurs.

In East Africa it was mainly carried out during the dry season and during the rainy season they settled down for agricultural activities.

By the10th century AD the Yao and Chewa were exporting ivory and iron to the coast. The Shona of Zimbabwe exported ivory and gold to the coast which were then exported to the Far East and then return they imported glass wear, cowrie’s shells, beads, cotton cloth and porcelain from the far and Middle East. They used organised caravans for security reasons and distance standard currency such as bars of iron or copper and slabs of salt.

The long distance trade was a blessing for many societies in East and Central Africa as it gave rise to the notorious and professional long distance traders like Tip Tippu, Mzilikazi, and Mlosi etc

In addition to that prominent rulers such as Muteesa of Bugnanda, Mirambo of Unyamwezi, Kimweri of Usambara and Mkwawa of the Uhehe were able to conquer and rule weaker and neighboring societies. All this was facilitated by the acquisition of fire arms and ammunition which were important commodities from the East coast.

Expansion and consolidation of various kingdoms for example Buganda, Bunyoro, Yao and Nyamwezi led many of the participants to became very rich and famous from the huge profits that were enjoyed from the trade.

The trade acted as a stepping stone for the spread of Islam in the interior of East Africa. Many of the traders preaching Islam at the same time carrying their trading activities. Slave trade paved its way to the interior as the interior was exposed to traders.

The Trans Saharan Trade

Trans Saharan trade is also sometimes referred to as caravan trade. It was carried out across the Sahara desert. The trade involved different zones ranging from forest i.e. involving the forest states such as Benin, Oyo, Kanem Bornu and many more, the savannah belt which involved the Western Sudanic states such as Ghana, Mali and Songhai, the Sahara desert and the North Africa, the Mediterranean world and Europe.

Trans Saharan Trade Route Map – World Map Atlas


Factors for the rise of the Trans Saharan Trade (causes)

The introduction and use of the camels, which were introduced in Africa during 100A.D. CamelS replaced horses and donkeys as they were more resistant to desert conditions and could also move faster to the desert. This therefore facilitated the development of the trade as a more efficient means of transport had been introduced

Political development that during the 7th and 16th century. This includesthe Western Sudanic states whose rulers promoted the expansion of the trade. They ensured this by giving a leading hand, security, freedom of movement and also encouraging people to prepare the goods that were necessary in the trade a thing that did not existed before.

The conquest of North Africa by the Arabs, between 641 and 708 the Arabs conquered North Africa, astraders naturally they introduced their trading system and on top of that they increased the use of camels in North Africa and in the Sahara desert.

Development of production, in various regions of the Sudanic zone the production increased it meant that the supplies of commodity to be used in the trade were available. As no single community is self-sufficient this meant that the different communities had to depend on each other for various raw materials and goods.

Organization of the trade:

commodities used; different regions had different commodities that they concentrated on, from Europe and Muslim North Africa included manufactured goods, textile, copper, silver, woolen garments, brass, tin and horses

From the Sahara were salt mined at Bilma, Taghaza, Taoden, Idjil and Awlil, copper mined at Takkeda, tobacco and dates inclusive.

The savannah region had millet, sorghum, wheat, gum and ostrich feathers and livestock as well as gold that were mined from Wangara.

The forest zone was well known for gold mines at Akan and Lobi, kola nuts, ivory and the slaves.

The first medium of exchange was the barter system where goods were exchanged for goods but as the people became professional traders the medium of exchange also changed the traders started using cowries and at a later stage they started using the French franc and then the Spanish and Australian dollars.

As caravans were organised they had to follow specific trade routes that gave them a sense of direction on their way through the trade. The major trade route that was used included;

  • From Ghat and Tripoli to Ehyot.
  • From Ghana to Morocco via Audaghast.
  • From Timbuktu to Tunis via Taghaza.
  • From Borno to Tripoli.
  • From Kano to Tunis and Tripoli via Agades.
  • From Timbuktu to Tunis via Wangala, Ghademes and Ghat.

The Impact of the Following Types of Trade: Local Trade, Regional Trade

Appraise the impact of the following types of trade: local trade, regional trade

Impacts of the Trans Saharan Trade

Contributed to the formation of West African states and kingdoms, the profits that were raised from trade helped in the development of different states, these were got through the taking over charge or control over the trade routes and every one using that route had to pay tax or tributes.

For example Ghana Empire conquered Audaghast in 990 A.D. in view of controlling the salt mines in that area, Mali and Songhai extended their control as far as Taghaza and Takedda for economic reasons. It is therefore true to say that trade facilitated the rise and consolidation of the different states.

The spread of Islam was greatly accelerated by the Trans Saharan Trade in West and North Africa. The traders were serving two masters at a go as they were traders and also acted as teachers of Islam (evangelists) a thing that improved on the literacy rates in the region.

Growth of towns and cities, due to the trade many areas which were once villages turned into towns in what is known as urbanisation. Small villages turned into large towns and cities such as Kumbi Saleh, Gao, Kano, Jenne, Timbuktu plus many others.

Improvement of political administrations, the caravan trade also improved political administration of the different kingdoms through the use and employment of well educated Muslim traders who had been attracted by the trade. Many of the states were also applying the Islamic ways of administration in their different areas or jurisdiction

Exploitation of natural resources, as the influx of the Whites increased, this marked the beginning of the exploitation of natural resources that were endowed in Africa. It is also believed that this was the time of unequal exchange between Africa and Europe began.

Provision of constant and regular source of income, The attractive profits from trade provided constant and regular source of income for the different states. This was mainly raised from the custom duties that imposed on the imports and over goods of great political importance such as horse and the different metals that were imported into the state.

Trade also provided the sources for undertaking wars of conquest and expansion through the supply of effective means of war fare, such as horses and metals that could be used in the making and designing arms as spears, arrows head and axes.

The Trans Saharan Trade

This was the trading relation between the people of Western Sudan (Sudanic/Savannah region) and the people of North Africa passing across the Sahara desert. Camels were used as the means of transport during this trade. Societies that participated in the Trans Saharan Trade included;

  • The Berbers of North Africa and brought them to West Africa via the Sahara desert.
  • The Arabs and the European stationed in the Mediterranean costs of North Africa. These supplied goods to the Berbers and Tuaregs who in turn sold them to the people of West Africa. The said Arabs and purchased the items brought from West Africa.
  • The West African tribes of both the Sudanic region and the forest regions to include the Mandika, Fulani, Hausa, Edo etc. these supplied items to the Berbers and Tuaregs who crossed the Sahara and purchased the items brought from North Africa.

Commodities involved

From North Africa the commodities were:

  • Cotton and silk clothes
  • Swords
  • Guns and gunpowder
  • Horses, etc.

from West Africa the commodities were:

  • slaves
  • ivory
  • ostrich feathers
  • kola nuts
  • Gold
  • Salt
  • Food stuff

Trans Saharan trade was firstly carried out through barter system and there after some media of exchange like cowries shells, silver, coins, etc. replaced the barter system.

Trade routes

The Trans Saharan Trade was carried out via the routes namely:

  • The western routes
  • The Central route
  • The Eastern route

The Western route emerged from Fez in Morocco via Siljilmasa, Taghaza, Taoden, Walata, and Audaghost up to Timbuktu. This route was famous because of salt mines at Taghaza and gold mines Wangara.

The central route emerged at Tunis in Tunisia via Tuat, Taotek, Tadmekket, Timbuktu, Gao, and Kano up to Katsina.

The Eastern route to the other hand emerged from Triplin in Libya, Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt to Bilma via Murzuk, Ghat and Agades. This route was significant because of salt mines in Bilma.

Factors for growth of Trans Saharan Trade

Several factors contributed to the growth and development of Trans Saharan trade. These include:-

  • Political stability in both North Africa and West Africa, hence a conducive ground forthe trade activities to flourish.
  • The desire by European traders of such items as ivory, gold and slaves which were tobe obtained only from Western Sudan.
  • The desire of European commodities by the people of Western Sudan.
  • Production of surplus commodities such as kola nuts, salt, fish and other food stuffsin Western Sudan. These had to be exported to other regions including NorthAmerica.
  • The introduction and use of camels as animals of transportation, these were able tocarry huge quantities than horses and human porters. They were also tolerable indesert conditions.

Factors for the fall of Trans Saharan Trade

By the second half of the 19th century, the trans Saharan trade was almost collapse of this trade was a result of the following factors:

  • Introduction of trans Atlantic trade which altered the trade route of Trans Saharan Trade.
  • The emergence of other sources of salt and gold needed by European traders due toopening up of mines in the Americas.
  • Scarcity of water in the desert discouraged the voyages via the desert.
  • Eruption of wars (jihad) in the Maghreb region particularly Morocco. This disrupted the trade.
  • Colonisation of West African states by European powers in the last quarter of 19thcentury deteriorated the trading relations with North Africa

Effects of the Trans Saharan Trade

The Trans Saharan Trade had to a lot of effects as follows:-

  • It led to development and growth of towns and cities in both North Africa and theWestern Sudan, example being Walata, Kano, and Timbuktu etc.
  • It led to emergence of rich merchants classes in Western Sudan as these merchants accumulated a lot of wealth from the trade.
  • It led to the spread of Islam, Arabic culture and language in Western Sudan.
  • It led to intermarriages between the people of Western Sudan, the Arabs and AfroArabs from North Africa.
  • It led to the growth and consolidation of Sudanic states namely Ghana, Mali, Songhaiand Kanem Bornu.vi. It stimulated the state of warfare between Western Sudanic states and forest states dueto the desire for slaves.

Mining and hand craft industries


This is the extraction of minerals from the underground parent rocks. By the period before and around the 19th century, minerals that were being mined in Africa include the following:-

  • Copper
  • Gold
  • Iron
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Salt.

Most of the minerals were to be taken to handcraft industries where they were then processed into different items. Some other minerals such as salt were to be consumed directly while some other minerals were to be used as media of exchange in trading activities.

Prominent areas in Africa where mining activities were being practiced include the following:-

  • Katanga in Zaire where there were copper mines.
  • Tshikapa in Zaire, Machili, Lusu, Klambo falls and Ingombe ilede.
  • Gokomere, Mabven, Malapiti and Chivi in the Limpompo valley of Zimbabwe iron wasmined.
  • Mashona and Matebele lands in Zimbabwe as well as Ashanti in Ghana where gold wasbeing mined.
  • Uvinza in Western Tanzania and Taghaza in Mauritania where there were extraction ofsalts.

Hand crafts industries

These were factories that manufactured different items through the use of machines operated manually (by hand). Such industries include those that dealt with metal works namely:

  • Iron processing industries
  • Copper processing industries
  • Salt making industries

The said metal working industries were mainly located near their respective mining areas. Prominent societies that were experts in metal works include:

  • The people of Chipembe, and Kalomo in Zambia, the people of Mwavarambo,Phopo and Nkope Bay in Malawi as well as the Yoruba and the Edo of Nigeriawho were experts in iron smelting industries.
  • The Shona and Ndebele of Zimbabwe, the Akan and the Asante of Ghana whowere famous in gold coast smithing industries.
  • The Manganja of Malawi and the people of Taghaza were experts in salt making industries.

Other industries apart from metal work industries dealt with cotton and raffia cloth making among the Fulbe, the Felleme and Trakrur of Senegal and among the societies Guinea and Zimbabwe.

Other industries were those dealing with Basketry, Pottery and wood carving. Wood carving industries were common among the Makonde of Tanzania and the Yoruba of Nigeria.

Items made from the said handcraft industries were to be sold in exchange with other products like agricultural products, animal products etc.


Trans Saharan Trade Route Map - World Map Atlas


  1. Define the following terms Technology Agriculture Trade Environment Development
  2. List the four agricultural processes that were carried out among the different societies in East Africa.
  3. Mention any four advantages and effects of agriculture to the different African societies.
  4. Mention the different handcrafts that existed in pre colonial African societies.
  5. Outline the different types of trade that where present in the pre colonial African societies.
  6. What factors contributed to the development of trans Saharan trade?
  7. Mention the different regions that participated in the Trans Saharan trade.
  8. Mention four notorious and professional long distance traders.
  9. List the different methods in the obtaining and processing of salt in the pre colonial African societies.
  10. What factors gave rise to the Trans Saharan trade?
  11. List four principles of trade routes that were used in trans Saharan slave trade.
  12. What were the impacts or effects of trans Saharan trade?


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