N57

Economic History: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries: Africa; Oceania

The Origin of Extractive States in Africa: The Case of the British Cape Colony, 1834-1909

The majority of African states continue to be regarded as extractive states. We use the Cape Colony's public expenditure to account for the emergence of extractive states in Africa. With a sub-imperial role for Southern African colonial expansion, the Cape Colony became a template for extractive practices that continue to characterize the region. Using public expenditure data, budget debates and existing historiography, we trace the elite competition for limited public resources that associated the Cape's transition from an agrarian society to a mining-led economy.

The wealth of the Cape Colony: Measurements from probate inventories

The stylized view of the Dutch Cape Colony (1652-1795) is of a poor, subsistence economy, with little progress in the first 143 years of Dutch rule. New evidence from probate inventory and auction roll records show that previous estimates about wealth at the Cape are inaccurate. In contrast to earlier historical accounts, the inventories reveal evidence of an affluent, market-integrated settler society, comparable to the most prosperous regions in eighteenth century England and Holland.

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