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Agricultural Development, Taxation, and International Trade


Rich history exists regarding African agricultural development, taxation system, and international trade. This paper will critically evaluate the three sections.

Agricultural Development

For thousands of years, the only part of Africa that practiced agriculture was Egypt, which worked closely with Southwest Asia. The rest of the countries below the Sahara were involved in hunting and gathering up to 3000 BCE (Green, 2019). Around this time, agriculture developed independently in West Africa in present-day Cameroon and Nigeria. Besides, the West African region began domesticating wild animals. The initial crops to be grown in West Africa were sorghum and millet, and later on, other crops such as rice, yams, and oil palms,

The European settlers who owned large pieces of land for cash crop growing faced various challenges in securing labor due to low population densities and Africans’ reluctance to provide labor (Green, 2019). As a result, there was the introduction of regressive taxation systems, which led to Africans working for the settlers to earn the income to pay the tax.

After agriculture and cattle keeping were developed, people were freed from foraging food. They created complex technologies and social organizations that gave them an edge over the people they conquered (Green, 2019). Today, agriculture in Africa constitutes 35% of GDP. African countries such as Kenya have incorporated technologies such as drones, GPS, sensors, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence to make work easier. As a result, agriculture is no longer a manual process.


When the colonial tax was introduced, African nations had to renounce their traditional taxes. Some refused to pay the colonial taxes, symbolizing their attachment to the conventional order. Besides, this refusal symbolized social censure against state policy. Some introduced taxes included the hut tax, poll, or head tax, which was a direct tax on adult males. Another tax, such as income tax, was introduced, but it only applied to a limited number of countries such as South Africa and Northern and Southern Rhodesia (Zambia) (Gwaindepi, n.d.).

In the pre-colonial era, African countries were organized into communities made of village chiefs. Clearly, pre-colonial taxation was greatly influenced by European presence in trading and, later on, slavery. The tax system between the colonial and pre-colonial eras offered because taxation was egalitarian and communal under the chiefs’ leadership (Gwaindepi, n.d.). Colonialism brough alteration in the taxation system as people were to pay taxes individually through head tax. Besides, colonial tax altered the labor force as it was a capitalist scheme that ensured a constant labor supply to white settlers’ farms.

International Trade

From ancient times, the trans-Saharan route linked traders from the Middle East, North and West Africa, and Europe. The trade covered thousands of miles in the sea and on land. Besides, it connected many trading centers and cities (Kramer, 2023). Enslaved people were part of the ‘commodities’ being exchanged and had a significant impact as it enriched many whites across occupations and industries. There was the introduction of some colonial trade policies which aimed at making trade favorable to the Europeans. For instance, mercantilism is a policy that was designed by Great Britain and was effective between the 16th and 18th centuries, it aimed at increasing the nation’s wealth through exports.


The African continent has come a long way in developing its agriculture. Initially, it was practiced by a few nations and later spread throughout. Besides, when the settlers arrived, they affected the sector. Again, due to the arrival of the Europeans, the African taxation system drastically changed. Initially, it was communal, but with the arrival of Europeans, it was forceful and individual responsibility. This led to a labor force change as many Africans were forced to work in the plantations. Africa was also involved in the international trade in which slavery was a key ‘product.’


Green, E. (2019). European Settle Agriculture and Exploitation of Local People. British Online Archives, n.d.

Gwaindepi, A. (n.d.). Taxation in Africa since the Colonial Times. The History of African Development, 1-23.

Kramer, L. (2023). Mercantilism and the Colonies of Great Britain. Investopedia, n.d.

Kramer, L. (2023). Mercantilism and the Colonies of Great Britain. Investopedia, n.d.


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