Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation

Groningen Growth and Development Centre

Faculty of Economics and Business
Header image GGDC News

GGDC News

How Africans Shaped British Colonial Institutions: Evidence from Local Taxation

Date:04 November 2020
British Colonial Africa With Selected Cases
British Colonial Africa With Selected Cases

Jutta Bolt and Leigh Gardner published a paper in the Journal of Economic History on the role played by Africans in shaping British colonial institutions in Africa. The paper presents new data on local governments, or “Native Authorities,” to present the first quantitative comparison of African institutions under indirect rule in four colonies in 1948: Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Nyasaland, and Kenya. Tax data show that Native Authorities’ capacity varied within and between colonies, due to both underlying economic inequalities and African elites’ relations with the colonial government. Our findings suggest that Africans had a bigger hand in shaping British colonial institutions than often acknowledged.