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 railway played a large part in late nineteenth century and early twentieth century globalization since, to benefit from the international economy, peripheral countries needed cheap inland transport. This paper discusses how the railway transformed the economy of South Africa’s Cape Colony during the first era of globalization. A very large share of the Colony’s GDP came from rail transport – its resource saving effect was one of the highest in the world at that time.
To estimate the long-term, persistent effects of missionary education requires two strong assumptions: that mission station settlement is uncorrelated with other economic variables, such as soil quality and access to markets, and 2) that selection into (and out of) mission stations is unimportant. Both these assumptions are usually not sufficiently addressed, which renders the interpretation of the persistent effects of mission stations suspect.
Because information about the livelihoods of indigenous groups is often missing from colonial records, their presence usually escapes attention in quantitative estimates of colonial economic activity. This is nowhere more apparent than in the eighteenth-century Dutch Cape Colony, where the role of the Khoesan in Cape production, despite being frequently acknowledged, has been almost completely ignored in quantitative investigations.
The sub-optimal savings propensity in South Africa the past three decades causes concern for the ability of the country to support its economic development. An historical analysis of the development of the savings’ trends in South Africa may assist in understanding the historical roots of the phenomenon. Apart from general descriptions of the nature of economic activity in the Cape Colony very little is known about the role financial sector development and savings played in the growing colonial economy.
The digitisation and transcription of rich archival sources and the use of statistical techniques combined with modern computing power, have, over the last decade, allowed social scientists to reinterpret eighteenth-century Cape history. This review essay summarises the main results from the burgeoning literature; assesses whether these new studies refute or support earlier hypotheses; shows how new quantitative evidence can inform our understanding of the process of economic development; and appeals to historians and economists to learn the language of the other.