Building Colonial States in Africa

Leigh A. Gardner

in Taxing Colonial Africa

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199661527
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744877 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Building Colonial States in Africa

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This chapter places the financial management of the British Empire in historical perspective by examining how empires through history have weighted the desire to acquire new territory against the costs of governing it. It reviews the methods used by the British government to manage the rising costs of colonial expansion from its very earliest years until the twentieth century, focusing on the specific challenges created by the Scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century. Chartered companies played an important role as agents of imperial expansion, but often failed when the costs of governing their new territories exceeded the profits of colonial trade. This was particularly true in Africa, where factor endowments of abundant land and scarce labour provided a very limited tax base with which to support colonial administrations. Efforts to minimize costs resulted in colonial administrations with limited manpower, and the use of indirect rule through African elites.

Keywords: empires; scramble for Africa; indirect rule; chartered companies; factor endowments; nineteenth century

Chapter.  6034 words. 

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