British Colonial Economic Policies

British Colonial Economic Policies

  • After acquiring and establishing their rule in Uganda and Kenya the British carried out a number of economic and social policies which helped them maintain their stay in East Africa.

The economic policies included the following;

  • Agriculture: the British introduced compulsory growing of cash crops in order to make Africans meet their own costs of administration e.g. Kenneth Borup introduced cotton in 1905.
  • Taxation: the Africans were introduced to a new system of paying taxes in cash form, a system that was totally new to them. Hut and gun tax became compulsory.
  • Industrialisation: the British destroyed traditional industries to make Africans totally dependent on European made goods. They only set up small processing plants like ginneries to reduce on the bulk of raw materials for export.
  • Forced labour: Africans were forced to provide labour on large plantations, and in the construction of roads, railways, ports and harbours.
  • Land alienation: Africans lost a lot of their land to the white settlers in the Kenyan highlands and to the construction of transport lines, schools, hospitals yet no compensation was made.
  • Transport: Several murram roads were constructed within Uganda and vehicles were introduced. The Uganda railway was also constructed from Mombasa and it reached Kampala in 1931.
  • Education: the education given to the Africans was based on the western syllabi and did not provide solutions to African problems. Missionaries were at first in charge but later on, the colonial gov’t took over.
  • Health: better health services were introduced and missionaries did a commendable job. E.g. the white fathers built Nsambya hospital, the CMS built Mengo hospital.
  • Introduction of a currency: this was introduced to replace the old system of barter trade. First cowrie shells were used then Indian rupees and later coins. These were later followed by banking.
  • Urbanization: trading centers, towns and big cities were all developed especially along the railway lines. E.g. Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Kampala, Tororo, Mbale and Kasese.

N.B Where the Africans gained from the colonial economic policies, it was by accident and not design.

Effects of the British colonial economic policies

  • Due to urbanization, the Africans were segregated against and they were in most cases required to be in the rural areas to grow cash crops. E.g. in Kenya, restrictions were issued through the Kipande system or national identity cards for only the Africans.
  • The introduction of a currency system meant that Africans started paying taxes in form of cash which was very new to them.
  • Africans became prisoners on their own land through forced cash crop growing, forced taxation policies and restricted movements in their own motherland.
  • Africans became increasingly dissatisfied with the colonialists and they started demanding for their independence through rebellions e.g. Mau Mau rebellion in 1952, Nandi resistance in 1895.
  • Literacy was wide spread through the introduction of western education but it was not of any assistance to the local people because they only trained as clerks, secretaries e.t.c…
  • People in Uganda started growing crops that they were not going to eat e.g. cotton, coffee, tea.
  • With the development of many roads and the Uganda railway, many areas were effectively exploited by the British e.g. Buganda, Busoga, Bugisu and Kikuyu land in Kenya.
  • Africans lost a lot of their land to the white settlers who introduced cash crop growing e.g. in the 1900 Buganda agreement, the Baganda lost the crown land to the British yet it was the most fertile.
  • Heavy taxation and land alienation forced many Africans to suffer with poverty because they had to work very hard to pay the taxes yet they never had land to grow their crops for sale.
  • Improvement in the transport sector meant that business was improved in the protectorate because it eased the movement of raw materials and business men.
  • Traditional industries like bark cloth making, greatly declined as the Africans were forced to depend on European made items like clothes.
  • Better medical services were provided with the construction of hospitals like Nsambya and Mengo and this reduced on deaths as a result of tropical diseases e.g. malaria, sleeping sickness.
  • Africans were taught new farming systems like plantation farming which replaced the traditional system of subsistence agriculture. Dairy farming was also introduced in the Kenya highlands.
  • Africans got jobs on European farms, public road works and on the Uganda railway and this helped some to improve on their standards of living.
  • Many urban centers sprung up as a result of development of schools, Uganda railway, hospitals e.g. Kampala, Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu, Mbale, and Tororo.