The introduction provides a general overview of the history of colonial development policies and practices in Sub-Saharan Africa from the 1890s through to the end of empires in the 1960s and 1970s. It focuses primarily on the British and French colonial empires, but attention is also given to Belgian and Portuguese colonial Africa. The initial section explores what is meant by the term “development”. The heart of the essay focuses on a historical narrative of colonial development ideologies and practices in Africa, beginning with the French civilising mission in the late 19th century and Joseph Chamberlain's doctrine of constructive imperialism. The interwar period is described as a transitionary phase during which the classic ideologies of La mis en valuer and the “dual mandate” reach their height. In the wake of the Depression of the 1930s, colonial development in British and French Africa begins a new departure as the need for metropolitan funding and direction becomes more apparent. By the 1940s, both colonial powers established new imperial assistance programmes and administrative structures aimed at the social and economic development of their African colonies. This sets the stage for the final phase of colonial development in Africa following the Second World War, what has been termed the “second colonial occupation”.
Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa, Colonial development, British colonial empire, French colonial empire, Mise en valeur, Dual Mandate, Imperialism, Development assistance programs, Second colonial occupation, Colonial administration
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