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Different historians advance various opinions about Africa and Europe before the point of contact with Europe. The afro-centric or Marxist historians do say that before the point of contact between the two Africa and Europe, the level of development was almost the same.

In fact Walter Rodney in his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, said that in some aspects Africa was above Europe e.g.in form of cotton cloth which was widely manufactured before the coming of Europeans. Local cotton from the Guinea coast were strong than Manchester cotton from Britain, in Katanga Zambia the local copper was preferred to the imported items Europe and the same held true for iron in place like Sierra Leone.

It is from the 15th C that the development gap between the two begun to widen the more. From that time the unequal relationship between the two was firmly established. As Europe begun to steadily advance politically, economically and technologically, Africa was retarded and entered the trend of underdevelopment.

We as contemporary historians we should examine the development levels and comparisons in the levels attained by the two continents, their socio-political, economic and technological aspects need to be analysed.


System of exchange refers to trading activities that involve transfer of ownership of goods and services form one person (group of people) to another for profit making. So, for trade to take place there must be exchange of either goods for goods or services or money. The exchange of goods for goods or services is barter system of trade while the exchange of goods or services for cash is referred to as monetary system of exchange. Trade developed as a result of development of productive forces that made it possible for surplus production.

By the 5th C both Europe and Africa had developed similar systems of exchange but with little variations. Trading contacts between Europe and Africa however, are known to have started during the 14th C BCE, when the Greeks began to trade with Egypt. Also with the Trans-Saharan Trade, traders from Europe contacted North and West African traders.

The Role of Trade

1. To arrest scarcity. 
Societies engage in exchange to acquire goods that are insufficient or that they are lacking so as to satisfy their demands.

2. To deal with surplus. 
Trade is a means to release goods societies have in excess. Through trade losses would be avoided as the goods will be released profitably.

3. For wealth acquisition. 
Through trading transaction profits are acquired. By accumulating profits trade dealers attain wealth.

4. Trade encourages production. 
The desire for wealth stimulated the exploitation of resources and skills as man struggles to make goods needed for market.

5. Provides employment. 
It engages many like craftsmen in the production process and many such as dealers in the process of transactions. Some people specialise as merchants.

6. Improve relations between societies. 
Trading societies develop friendlier relations between themselves through reciprocal benefits that makes them complement each other.

7. Trade is a source of income. 
Government generate income through taxes while people involved in exchange acquire income through profits and wages (employment).

Systems of Exchange in Africa by the 15th Century

The development of systems of exchange in Africa like other places was an outcome of the development of productive forces that was accompanied by emergence of division of labour and specialisation on different skills like industry and agriculture. Such developments increased productivity that led to surplus production.

By the 15th C, Africa was engaged in various trading systems namely;

-  The Trans-Saharan Trade conducted among the West African societies, North Africa and Asia and Europe. The trade was organised by West African people, the Berbers of the Sahara region and North Africa, the Arabs from the Middle East and the Europeans in exchange of goods like gold, hides and salt from Africa and firearms, cloth and glassware from abroad.

-  The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. This was conducted among Europe, Africa and the Americas. Africa was contacted by the European maritime traders. The main items collected from Africa were slaves and bullions. European merchants brought manufactured goods like cloth, glassware, porcelain, alcohol and perfumes to Africa.

Long Distance Trade of East and Central Africa that involved the people of East and Central Africa trading with the coastal traders the Arabs, Indians and Europeans. Goods exchanged from Africa included gold, copper and slaves and from abroad included cloth, glassware, beads and perfumes. The major organisers of the trade were the Yao, Nyamwezi and Kamba.

In Africa the barter system of exchange was dominant. This subjected Africa to unequal exchange as her valuable goods like gold, silver and slaves were exchanged for cheap goods like cloth, glassware, perfume and alcohol from Europe. However, with time, certain scarce items like gold and cowry shells were used as the standard of measure - medium of exchange.

There was existence of specialised classes of traders in some societies. The expansion of trade and specialisation in some regions led to the emergence of classes of people that did not involve in any other economic activity other than trade. The Marabounds among the Mandika, the Berbers of North Africa and Ndewa among the Nyamwezi are just a few examples.

African societies engaged in exchange mainly to arrest scarcity. Their main goal was to acquire goods they could not make or that were insufficient. It was mainly made for subsistence purposes than for wealth accumulation. Wealth accumulation was a target of mainly the ruling classes. Trade had developed at all levels; local, regional and intercontinental. At local level, societies exchanged between each other for handicrafts, foodstuffs and iron products. Regional and intercontinental trading systems linked regions of Africa with the outside world. The reference is the Trans-Saharan Trade that connected West Africa, North Africa, Asia and Europe.

African Traders

Systems of Exchange in Europe by the 15th Century

In the 15th C, Western Europe was becoming more concerned with intercontinental trade. It was during the time when Mercantilism started due advancement of marine technology. They contacted overseas lands, namely, Africa the America and Caribbean.

The major driving force for trade in Western Europe was wealth accumulation. Participation in mercantilism by states such as France. England and Spain, majorly looked at collection of the highly valued gold and silver (bullions) which were determinant of wealth and power.

In the 15th C, Europe had started transformation to a monetary system. In the beginning the bullions were used as money. That pushed European states to move around the world to search for bullions. Later coinage and paper money were introduced as the volume of trade expanded.

Rise of a class of specialised merchants. These arose from the middle class, aristocrats and nobles that had capital to invest in trade, industries and ships. As these gained more experience, they organised themselves in trading companies like the Dutch East Indian Company.

Comparisons of the Systems of Exchange in Africa and Europe in (by) the 15th C


1. Trade was supported by powerful states. 
The Tudor monarchy of England under King Henry VII, King Henry of Portugal and Queen Isabella of Spain for example took deliberate measures to promote mercantilism. In Africa states like Mali under Mansa Musa and Songhai under Askia Muhammad provided security to traders and promoted production.

2. Africa like Europe had passed through all levels of trade; local, regional and international. 
In Africa, the Trans-Saharan trade between West and North Africa, Asia and Europe is an illustration of such regional and international trade systems. For Europe it was mercantilism through which Europe contacted overseas lands, Africa, the Caribbean and America.

3. The two continents had developed trading systems. 
The Trans-Saharan trade that started from the 4th C was still in operation in the 15th C between North and Western Africa. Likewise was the trading system between the East African coast and the Middle East. In the 15th C, mercantilism started through which Europe contacted Africa and the New World for wealth.

4.  Both possessed specialised classes of merchants. 
In Europe the class of rich merchants arose from the aristocrats, landlords and rich peasants. In Africa the organised groups of traders included the Ndewa of Nyamwezi, the Marabounds of Mandika and Berbers of North Africa.

5. In both continents, the barter system was still dominant. 
When Europe started contacts with Africa in the 15th C, European merchants exchanged item like, firearms, gunpowder and cloth for slaves, bullions and tropical items like ivory, animal skins and beeswax from Africa.

6. Wealth was acquired by unscrupulous means. 
European and African states acquired wealth by plundering. European states acquired it through slavery, unequal exchange and colonisation. Yet African societies raided their weaker neighbours for slaves and bullions.


In the 15th C European trade was more intercontinental than local or regional. it was the period of the start of Mercantilism when Europe contacted overseas’ lands like Africa and the Americas. The system was supported by advanced maritime and manufacturing technology. Contrary to that, African trade was more local and regional due technological limitations.

Trading system of the 15th C in Europe amassed extraordinary amount of wealth which was invested for development like in industries. In contrast to Africa the trading systems, led to underdevelopment due to technological stagnation, unequal exchange and slave trade.

By the 15th C Europe was developing a monetary system. In the beginning bullions were introduced as a standard measure - medium of exchange — later coinage was introduced. In Africa the barter system was still dominant with only a few societies using scarce commodities like salt, cowry shells and gold as medium of exchange.

The purpose of exchange also differed. In Europe trade through mercantilism was purposely for wealth accumulation. That is why the European merchants took the risk to travel overseas mainly for the collection of bullions. In Africa trade mainly focused on arresting scarcity, that is, to acquire what they could not produce due to low technology.

Participation in trade differed in the two continents. In Europe the entire Western Europe and many others like Sweden and Denmark participated in overseas trade. Africa only a few mostly coastal states and strong states like Mali and Songhai were directly involved in trade.

Europe had developed well organised class of professional merchants, who had specialised in only trade, possessing huge capital by which they bought ships and ran cottage industries. In Africa the class of professional trade was not yet well developed and organised like that of Europe. They mostly operated as middlemen of foreign coastal traders.

The quality goods differed. Due to advanced technology, Europe exchanged manufactured goods of higher quality than Africa. This also contributed to unequal exchange since Africans exchanged more valuable items like gold, ivory and hides but in their raw forms for manufactured goods like cloth, glassware and firearms from Europe.

Although systems of exchange between Europe and Africa were almost the same Europe was able to monopolize international trade due to advanced manufacturing and maritime technology. 

Differences in Goods exchanged between Europe and Africa

1. Goods from Africa were higher in value than those from Europe. Africa exchanged bullions and slaves for cheap manufactured goods such as cloth and glassware from Europe.

2. Goods from Europe were manufactured items while those from Africa were raw materials. Europe exchanged goods like firearms, glassware and cloth for goods like gold, silver and palm oil from Africa.

3. Manufactured goods from Europe were superior in quality than those manufactured in Africa due to a more advanced technology of Europe. To a large extent, the manufacturing sector in Africa could not march the quality of goods such as ‘glassware and cloth from Europe.

4. The goods brought from Europe to Africa were of wider variety than those Africa produced. Europe exchanged goods such as firearms, cloth, beads, porcelain, perfumes and wine while Africa mainly exchanged minerals, slaves and few agricultural goods.

5. Europe exported only natural goods manufactured goods while in Africa, the slaves were the major item sold to European merchants.

Impact of System of Exchange that developed between Europe and Africa from the 15th C

a) Impact of the Contacts on Africa

Economic Effects

1. Technological stagnation. 
Importation of European manufactured goods to Africa out-competed African local industries to lose market. Besides that, slave trade eroded Africa’s skilled craftsmen and artisans to the New World for labour.

2. Decline of inter-African trading system. 
Local and regional trading patterns like the Trans-Saharan Trade that boomed before the Trans-Atlantic Trade declined as many Africans preferred dealing with European merchants by than fellow African societies and Arabs.

3. Exploitation of resources. 
An enormous amount of physical and human resources were taken from Africa by European merchants through unequal exchange. That is, high valuable resources like gold, silver and ivory and labour (slaves) from Africa were taken for cheap manufactured goods such as, firearms, glassware, and cloth from Europe.

4. Introduction of new goods. 
New crops such as maize, potatoes, cassava and fruits like pineapples and guavas and some manufactured goods that Africans could not produce like firearms, glassware and porcelain were imported into Africa by European traders. Some African societies adopted the crops as staple foods.

Political Effects

5. Rise and growth of states. 
Some African states emerged while others grew to greatness due their role in trade. coastal and forest West African states such as Oyo, Benin and Dahomey grew in power due to Trans-Atlantic Slave which provided them wealth and firearms.

6. Downfall of some states. 
Some states crumbled by attacks from more powerful states for slaves and wealth like gold and silver needed by European traders. Slave trade also robbed them of their badly needed labour force for their development.

7. Paved way for the colonization of Africa. 
Mercantilism exposed Africa’s economic potentials such as minerals, fertile lands and abundant labour to European nations. After Industrial revolution, European industrial powers viewed Africa as a solution to their industrial demands such as, market and raw materials that could easily be acquired through colonisation.

8. Widened trans-continental socio-political and economic links. 
The contacts (Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade) established ties between Europe and Africa. The contacts built a foundation for undermining Africa’s progress by tying the continent to imperialist control and exploitation.

Social Effects

9. Spread of diseases. 
Interaction with Europe exposed Africans to diseases such as small pox, measles, syphilis and gonorrhea carried to Africa by European merchants. Diseases claimed a lot of lives.

10. Existence of state of fear and insecurity. 
Slave trade devastated African societies by introducing guns which encouraged frequent inter-society wars for slave raiding and wealth looting. Societies were destabilised and people forced to wonder around in fear.

11. Depopulation. 
A large number of African productive youths aged between 15 and 35 were shipped to the New World as slaves. Also famine, raids and wars of slave capture claimed lives of many. Surely, numerous societies lost generations of their fittest and able youths.

12. Culture distortion. 
Contact with European merchants contributed to destruction of African culture and heritage. Some Africans adopted foreign cultural practices like dressing codes and languages. This has led to the loss of the original true African cultural identity.

13. African families were torn apart. 
Countless African families were torn apart as some members were captured and exported to the Americas and the Caribbean for slavery while the lucky ones who escaped slavery in the New Worlds remained in Africa.

14. Spread of Christianity. 
In contacting the European merchants, some Africans adopted Christianity. This brought a new aspect in Africa that though united people and fought bad cultural habits, created divisions based on religious lines as societies were torn apart between Christians and Non Christians.

15. Development of Kiswahili language. 
Some vocabularies from European languages like Portuguese, English and French were added to Kiswahili language. For example, Portuguese words like “meza and lesu” were incorporated into Kiswahili.

16. Rise and growth of towns. 
Towns developed as trading centres and ports such as Elmina and Saint Louis and Dakar. They were market places were traders met for transactions. Slaves were kept in such town-ports while waiting for shipment to the New World.

17. Occurrence of famine. 
Famine was caused due to agricultural decline caused by destabilisations due to frequent slave raiding. Suddenly also slave trade led to labour shortage in farms. Besides, some societies over concentration on trade other than agriculture.

All in all, the contacts integrated Africa into capitalist economic system with Africa as the exploited and Europe as her exploiter. Africa was robbed of her precious human and physical resources and started dependence due to technological stagnation and underdevelopment.

Slaves shipped to America

Impact of the Contacts on Europe

The 15th C system of exchange (Mercantilism) by its exploitation of other continents through unequal exchange resulted into the development of European countries by the following ways;

1. Accumulation of wealth. 
European powers amassed a lot of wealth particularly bullions by exploiting other continents, mainly Africa and the Americas through unequal exchange, plundering and slavery. The capital acquired was invested in their sectors like industry.

2. Development of science and technology. 
Most notably was Marine technology which was the backbone of mercantilism. With marine technology was industrial technology that ultimately led to Industrial Revolution due to increased invention to meet the increasing domestic and overseas market demands.

3. Development of towns and ports. 
City ports like Liverpool, Marseilles and Amsterdam developed as commercial centres and landing sites that handled commodities carried to and from overseas. Other towns like Yorkshire and Lancashire developed as manufacturing centres.

4. Expansion of class differentiations. 
Expansion of overseas trade led to the rise and expansion of a rich commercial class that transformed Europe to capitalism. This class amassed a lot of wealth that they used to dominate the economic affairs of their countries and exploit the poor classes of workers and peasants.

5. Development of monetary economy. 
Trade led to the monetization of the European economy. At first the bullions were applied as standards of measure hence nations competed for their accumulation but later coinage and paper money was adopted as trade volumes expanded.

6. Development of financial institutions. 
Banks like Barclays formed in 1756 and insurance houses were born of the wealth accumulated by Europeans from trade and as well they boosted trade by providing security to merchants’ wealth and capital in forms of credits.

7. Provision of cheap labour. 
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is known for its greatest human trafficking. Through it millions of African slaves were exported from Africa to the New Worlds to provide cheap labour in the European capitalist established mines and plantations.

8. Colonial expansion. 
Due to overseas trade European states acquired colonies in the New Worlds for example; Britain possessed the 13 North American colonies, Jamaica and Trinidad; Portugal had Brazil; Spain had Mexico etc. colonies were exploited as sources of bullions, raw materials, and markets.

9. Opened and strengthened trans-continental links. 
From the 15th C European external trade. Mercantilism established ties between Europe and other continents like Africa, the Americas, and Asia. Since then the ties provide Europe with wider trading and exploitation zones.

While trade particularly foreign trade dwarfed African socio-political and economic progress, it elevated that of Western Europe with nations like Britain, France, Holland and Spain that emerged into socio-political and economic powerful states due to massive wealth accumulated from trade through dishonest means of plundering, slave trade, robbery and piracy.

Barclays Bank in London

General Impacts of Exchange on Africa and Europe

Trade, whether local or regional or international had a number of effects on African and European societies before or after the 15th C. The effects were either positive or negative.

Positive impacts (significance/contributions to development)

1. Rise and growth of states. 
States in Western Europe like England, France and Holland acquired enormous wealth from external trade to become more powerful. While in Africa coastal and forest West Africa states like Oyo, Benin, Dahomey and Asante and East African states Buganda and Karagwe grew in power by acquiring wealth and firearms from trade.

2. Rise and growth of towns. 
Towns and cities developed as ports, trading and manufacturing centres. City ports like Liverpool, Amsterdam and Lisbon in Europe while Dakar and Elmina (West Africa), Zanzibar, Bagamoyo and Mombasa (East Africa); Taghaza, Timbuktu, Sijlimasa, Gao and Jenne (West Africa) and; Fez and Tunis (North Africa). They were mainly market centres and ports were traders met for transactions.

3. Improvement of productive forces and technology. 
The quest to produce surplus for exchange stimulated man’s prcductive skills and industry. All that improved sectors like agriculture, mining and industry to avail enough for consumption and surplus for exchange.

4. Development of transport systems. 
In Europe, marine transport was developed along other transport systems. In Africa where Long Distance Trading systems such as Trans-Saharan and the East African Long Distance trade emerged, caravan routes developed through which Animal such as camels and horses and human transport was used.

5. Introduction of new goods. 
Goods that societies could not produce on their own were availed by trade. Africa acquired items like firearms from the Middle East and Europe. Likewise foreign traders collected goods like gold and silver from Africa.

6. Accumulation of wealth. 
European and African societies acquired wealth that consolidated them economically, politically and socially. The wealth acquired was invested in administration and economic sectors like agriculture, industry and transport.

7. Established links between societies. 
Trade contacts between societies linked and created friendliness among them through which they shared knowledge and skills and influenced each other to adopt new norms and civilization. The closeness of mainly coastal peoples of East and North Africa to Middle East is traced from early trading contacts from the 7th C.

8. Intermarriages. 
The intermarriages between foreign traders and Africans gave birth to half-casts. In East Africa were the Swahili people, born of Arabs and Africans, in West Africa were called Mullatoes being born of either Europeans or Arabs with Africans. In Congo and Mozambique, of Portuguese and African and were called Pombeiros.

9. Spread of new religions. 
Islam was spread in Africa through the Trans-Saharan trade and the East and Central F African Long Distance Trade by the Arab Muslim traders and Christianity through the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Though these religions united people, they led to divisions that tore societies into apart of Muslims, Christians and Traditionalists.

10. Birth of Kiswahili language. 
Kiswahili was an outcome of African contact with the outsiders mainly through trade. It began as mixture of Arabic and Bantu dialects to address language barrier problem between African and Arab traders. Contact with Europeans from 15th C also added to it some vocabularies like “meza” from Portuguese.

Benin Kingdom

Negative Impacts

The negative impacts were mainly on Africa;

1. Slave trade. 
Contact with outside world led to human trafficking from Africa to the foreign lands mostly to the Americas and Caribbean - slaves were the major item taken from Africa by European merchants in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Slave trade led to depopulation, fear and insecurity, famine and more so tore families apart.

2. Creation of classes. 
Trading contacts with the outside world led to creation of classes based on race and religion. In regions where trade with the Arabs flourished classes of Arabs and Muslim converts and others were created. Likewise where Trans-Atlantic Slave trade flourished classes were created between Christian converts and others like Muslims and Traditionalists. Besides also was the creation of classes of African middlemen.

3. Decline of other economic activities. 
Trading contact with outside world undermined other economic activities, agriculture and industry in particular. More concentration by rulers and population was directed to trade with coastal traders. Moreover, slave trade drained massive labour from Africa that would be important for development of other sectors of production.

4. Technological stagnation.
5. Exploitation of resources.

6. Downfall of some states.
7. Spread of diseases.

8. Culture distortion.
9. Paved way for the future colonization of Africa.

African Slaves working in the New World (America)


The concept of “political systems” is used to describe an evolution of organised government structures maintained by administration, coercive instruments and judiciary.

By the 15th C, distinguished political organisations had developed in Africa and Europe, however with variations in terms of development and efficiency. The level of development of the political systems was determined by the level of productive forces and modes of production developed by the concerned political systems - beginning with smallest unit of the social organisation which is the family to the complex unit which is the state.

Political System in Africa in (by) the 15th C

In the 15th  C, Africa had developed three distinct political systems, namely; clan, age- set and state organisations;

Clan Organisations 
These were common in communal and in most cases agricultural societies. For this form of organisation, several families with close blood relationship formed a clan and the clan chose its leader - the Clan-head. The Clan-head held sociopolitical powers, distributed land to clan members and provided guidance in production. The communal living meant that major means of production like land and products of labour were shared among clan members.

Age-set Organisation 
In this system, division of duties was based on age and sex. People of same age group and sex were initiated together, taught society’s culture and their responsibilities and bore a distinctive regimental (group) name to perform specific duties together. The system was as well common in communal societies, more especially in pastoral societies like the Maasai. Some agricultural societies like the Kikuyu and Nyakyusa also operated they system. Society or age group headship was determined by age, wisdom and good character.

Note; Clan and Age system were much democratic; decision making was made by the whole community and age groups themselves made their own day to day decisions. Discipline and obedience was highly observed. Trouble makers were punished by the community.

State Organisation 
Two forms of state organisation evolved in Africa; the centralised and decentralised states. Centralised states were large collections of clans to be controlled by a centralised authority. They were ruled by kings who held state power and controlled the major means of production like land. Such societies included Ghana and Mali (West Africa) and Buganda and Karagwe (East African). The decentralised states were the segmented states with no centralised authority and instead were controlled by councils of elders or clan heads or chiefs.

Mansa Musa. One of the greatest emperors of the Malian Empire. He came to power in 1307, he was perhaps the wealthiest ruler of his day, he is credited with the Golden Age of Mali.

Summary of Level of Political Development in Africa in (by) the 15th C

1. Variations of political systems. 
African societies were not at the same level of political development. While some were clan organisations like the Ntemiship in present day Tanzania, others societies had transformed to States like Buganda an Karagwe.

2. Communal system was dominant in a large part of Africa due to low development of productive force. Few societies that had iron technology had reached the feudal stage. The ruling classes controlled land which they distributed to their subjects to produce them surplus. Nevertheless, whether feudal or what, to a large extent African societies carried out their activities collectively in which ideally all able- bodied adults participated.

3. States formation developed in societies with advanced productive forces. The overriding force for state formation was iron technology. The technology boosted agriculture, industry, trade and security that enabled some societies like Mali develop into prominent states.

4. Parliamentary system. 
Some states had organised parliaments that assisted rulers in administration. Parliaments were made of ministers, chiefs and elders. The remarkable states here are Buganda with the Lukiiko and Oyo with the Oyo Messi. Clan and Age-set organisations had councils of elders or general public assemblies to make and pass decisions.

5. Development of social differentiation. 
Communal societies had simple classes determined by division of labour and roles people played like leaders, medicine-men and diviners. While as in communal societies all were workers, in feudal societies the rulers and landlords were not directly involved in production but exploited the serfs who had to produce surplus for them.

6. Role of the rulers. 
Rulers served the purposes of organising production, control means of production like land, uniting the people, ensure protection of society and served as chief judges and military commanders.

7. The development of productive forces allowed trade to develop among African societies. 
Local trade existed between societies such as agriculture and pastoral societies. Societies exchanged goods like cattle, food cloth and iron tools. Also regional and inter-continental trade; in West Africa was the Trans-Saharan with states like Ghana, Mali and Songhai; in East Africa was the Long Distance with states like Buganda and Nyamwezi. These trading systems contacted Africa with foreigners; Arab, Indian and European traders.

8. Religion was central part of state operation. 
Rulers were political but also religious heads. It was asserted that through them God communicated to his people through the spirits. They presided over religious ceremonies like prayers and offering of sacrifices. Notable instances are Buganda and Ghana where kings were seen representatives of God to their people

Buganda Kingdom

Political System in Europe in (by) the 15th C

Origin of state development in Europe

The Middle Ages (Medieval Period) was the formative period in the history of modem European states. The Middle Age (5th to 15th C) is the period starting from the demise of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476 to the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.

Within the period, Kings in Europe consolidated their power and set up centralised states between the 9th and 14th Centuries, that was during the High Middle Ages. By the 15th C, the continent had evolved sophisticated centralised political systems ruled by absolute monarchs. Prominent states included England, France, Austria, Spain, Holland, Russia and Portugal. During the period, political systems in Europe operated under the church (papacy). This was the period known as Christendom. In the period, the pope had great powers vested in him as religious and political sovereign ruler of nations in Europe. Rulers of different nations worked under him.

Europe was under feudal political power. The Feudal Mode of Production developed in Europe after the demise of the Roman Empire in the 5th C. It thus developed from the womb of the Slave Mode of Production of the Roman Empire. It started by the development of small decentralised political units called Manors headed by Rich landlords who at times were military leaders. The lords of the manors were under stronger lords who were the monarchs whose work was to reign, ensure smooth running of the government and defend his people.

Political systems in Europe were supported by strong standing armies. The armies did not only defend states’ interests domestically but also performed systematic expansionism within and outside Europe. It was due to that, Western Europe acquired colonies in the New World.

London, England

Factors for the Rise of Centralised States in Europe

State formation and development in Europe is accredited to the following circumstantial factors;

1. The role of Renaissance. 
This was the rebirth of knowledge and the beginning of the Age of Discovery from me 14th C. It was ignited with the rediscovery of classical Greek, Roman and Arabic knowledge and had an enormous liberating effect on intellectuals. It challenged traditional doctrines in politics, science and theology (religion). People started questioning the divine powers of rulers and religious leaders and demanded constitutional rule.

2. The Reformation. 
The Protestant Reformation that started in German by Martin Luther against the practices of Catholic Church spread through Europe and gained many followers even among princes and kings seeking stronger states by ending the influence of the Catholic Church. Many broke away from the Catholic Church like King Henry VIII of England who set up the Anglican Church. These religious divisions brought on a wave of wars by ambitious monarchs who become more centralised and powerful.

3. Crusades. 
These were military invasions, first taken in 1095 by the papacy (Pope Urban II) and western European Christians into non-Christian lands. The crusades brought forced conversion and assimilation of numerous peoples into Christianity and European culture. During the wars the invaded lands like the Persian Empire and Baltic regions were robbed of their wealth.

4. Role of religion. 
In the beginning Catholicism was dominant influential in the rise of early strong states like Carolingian Empire under King Charlemagne and other states like France and Austria that emerged after the disintegration of the empire. After the Reformation, protestant churches such in England and Prussia solidified unity for strong states.

5. Rise of strong leaders. 
From the Middle Ages powerful leaders surfaced to form strong states in Europe. Among them was Charlemagne who carried out expansion program in 774 that unified a large portion of central Europe to form the Carolingian Empire. In England, King Henry VIII destroyed the powers of the landlords, nobles and the church by seizing their land and united the English people to create to a strongly centralised state in England.

6. Population rise. 
In the Middle Ages, the population of Europe increased greatly. The estimated population grew from 35 to 80 million between 1000 and 1347 as technology and agriculture improved. Population expansions called for the need to form laws that would control relations among people, so leaders and states rose by the way.

7. Development in science and technology. 
From the 12th and 13th Centuries, Europe produced significant technology and innovations. Apart from iron technology, other major technological advance included the invention of the Windmill. Technology boosted the whole economy as agriculture, industry, transport, trade and military were all improved.

8. The role trade. 
By the mid 8th C, trade between Europe and the Arabs availed Europe with wealth in forms of silks, spices, and precious metals. From the 15th C mercantilism enabled states like Spain, England and France to raise to prominence by amassing great wealth in forms of bullions, raw materials, slaves and capital which they invested in other sectors like industry, agriculture and infrastructure.

9. Role of strong armies and conquest. 
The growing dominance of the military in the Middle Ages made state formation possible. The military technology that improved military effectiveness included the introduction closed-face helmets, heavy body armour, and gunpowder. Successful warlords became rulers and conquered weak tribes.

The High Middle Ages was the most renowned period in the history of the modern Western Europe. Kings in France, England, and Spain consolidated their power, and set up lasting governing institutions.

By the 15th century, Feudalism as a mode of production was a major socio-political and economic system Europe and Africa had in common.

Paris, France


Feudalism is a Mode of Production based on landownership. In a feudal system, land is the major means of production. Land was owned by a few, the landlords who rent it to the landless majority, the peasants or tenant (serfs). Besides owning land, landlords partially owned the serfs whom they exploited by payment of rent.

The emergence of feudalism in Europe is traced from the 5th Century A.D. after the fall of the Roman Empire. The local rulers (warlords) who fought the empire declared their independencies (manors) and distributed land to their armies in exchange for military services. They also distributed it to the church, individual rich slave masters (Latifundia) and loyal subjects. The person receiving land was called a vassal who also distributed it to landless people who now became peasants or serfs. Serfs (tenants) worked on the land in return for rent to the landlords.

Features of European Feudalism

1. Land was the major form of property. 
Land being the major means of production, agriculture was the major economic activity. The other means of production like industry were also crucial but second to land in importance.

2. Property especially land was owned by a few landlords who rented it the majority landless serfs and peasants. The land owning classes were the aristocrats, the church and landlords. The serfs worked on the landlords’ land on condition that they paid rent to the landlords.

3. Social stratification. 
Society was divided into classes; at the top were the nobility classes of the aristocrats; second were the clergy, the knights and the landlords. At the bottom were vast majority peasants and serfs who did not own property. This class was also divided into the Freemen Tenants (peasants) who enjoyed some freedom as they paid rent in produce and could leave the land when they wished and serfs who could not lawfully leave the manor or marry without the consent of the landlord.

4. The church was a powerful feudal institution owning vast estates and accommodating tenants and serfs. Besides controlling religious and moral affairs of society, the church participated in political roles to the state. Religion was imperative in strengthening loyalty to the state.

5. State and state apparatuses. 
Feudalism existed under centralized monarchies. State power was in hands of monarchs supported with armies. The monarch was the major landlord and with him/her were nobility, clergy and landlords enjoying state power and wealth.

6. Restrictive laws. 
In Europe feudalism operated under specific formulated laws which strengthened the loyalty of the serfs to the landlords to enhance exploitation. The laws for example bounded serfs on the land where they could neither leave nor marry without the consent of the landlords. Such laws were known as feudal justice laws.

7. Excessive exploitation of the serf and peasants. 
Serfs paid high and many feudal dues in forms of rent and taxes to the landlords, the church and the state. All the three forms of rent were in place labour rent, rent in kind and money rent. In France for example, the several taxes they were obliged to pay included income tax, land tax, poll tax and salt tax. In addition he paid a tithe of the produce of his land to the church. As if all that was not enough, he was often liable to forced labour on the roads or public buildings.

Rent payment; On using their landlords’ lands serfs had to pay rent to the landlord. Rent payment was the major possible form of extracting surplus from the serfs by landlord. The three forms of rent were; Labour Rent in which peasants worked part of the week, providing labour for the landlords and the rest of the days on his holding; Rent in kind by which the peasant shared portion of his products with his landlords and; Rent in cash, peasants paid in form of money — the peasant had to sell his products in order to pay rent.

8. Division of land. 
Land in the manors was divided into different complete portion for different purposes. The major divisions were; the open free lands for cultivation common meadow land for hay production, common pasture lands for grazing of cattle, common woodlands for firewood and common wastelands which were fallowed.

Factors for the Rise of Feudalism in Europe

1. The disintegration of the Roman Empire in the 15th C.
When the empire dissolved, the tribes that fought it declared their independencies, the slaves who worked with the Roman Empire were freed and land was distributed to rich slave masters, soldiers and loyal subjects. Those who received land became landlords and the freed slaves became serfs/tenants.

2. End of slavery. 
When slavery came to an end after the dissolution of the Roman Empire, the slave masters found new method to make the slaves remain under servitude by renting them land so as to tie the slave on the land to work for them. So the free slaves became serfs.

3. The need for security. 
A situation of anarchy of attacks like of Hungarians upon Italians, and French conditioned people to seek for protection from the powerful warlords/rulers.
Protection was granted to them in return for their labour, military services or giving part of their produce to the rulers who became their landlords.

4. Population expansion. 
In the Middle Ages population in Europe rapidly expanded mainly due to increased security and agriculture production. Its expansion left many people landless. The few who possessed land entered into relations with the landless to work on their land in return for rent payment.

5. Development of productive forces. 
Developments in technology particularly metal works, led to the rise of classes. Also the making of efficient tools enabled those with skills to subdue others and open more land for agriculture hence required more labour. The subdued people were made serfs to work for the landowning classes.

6. Unequal distribution of labour products and properties. 
The development of classes, led to inequalities. Due to that, individuals and societies that possessed more resources like iron and big populations, transformed much quickly to Feudalism. They conquered weaker societies and turned the conquered peoples to serfs.

7. Power struggle. 
The manorial system that ensued the collapse of the Roman Empire, suffered from power struggles among the warlords that fought the empire. The struggles were the wars of conquest to increase land and people for control. The conquerors became the landlord and the conquered were turned to serfs.

How Feudalism Operated in Europe

The estates of feudal lords were called manors occupied by dependants, the tenants serfs, the semi-independent dependants were the peasants. The manors were self-reliant: they produced everything people needed, starting with foods, clothing, leather goods and provided their own security. The manor varied in size according to the wealth of its lord. Every Noble had at least his own manor, even the king depended on his many manors. The different manors under different lords all together were under one king.

Each manor was partitioned into three parts according to its use. The first portion was for landlord’s use only; the second for the serfs/peasant to meet their needs, and the third was the common land which included wood, meadow, pasture and wasteland which according to the custom remained at the disposal of both serfs/peasants and the landlords.

Comparisons of the African and European Feudal Systems in the 15th C


1. Land was the major factor of production and on it agriculture was the major productive activity. The land ownership was by the monarchy, the few rich landlords and the clergy who rented it to the majority landless serfs.

2. Stratification of society. 
Classes based on land ownership system. The land owning classes included the ruling classes of monarchs, nobles, clergy and rich landlords while the landless exploited classes of were serfs who occupied the bottom position in society.

3. Feudalism was exploitative. 
Land owning classes like the monarchs, nobles and landlords exploited the serfs and peasants working on their land through payment of rent so as to produce surplus for them. In Europe, on top of the rents, the serfs were subjected to payment of taxes, forceful free labour, and robbery.

4. Development in productive skills. 
There was considerable development of technology heavily boosted by iron works in the feudal states of Europe and Africa. In both continents agriculture developed and cottage and handcraft industries existed, producing goods for domestic use and for exchange.

5. Existence of centralised political states. 
In both Africa and Europe feudal systems developed in centralised political systems. Examples included the Carolingian Empire. England, Spain and Portugal that had organised monarchical systems since the 8th C. In Africa they included Zimbabwe, Egypt. Ethiopia, Buganda, Meroe, Ghana, Mali and Songhai

6. The tendency of conquest. 
Feudal states in Europe and Africa had a tendency of invading weak societies for land, wealth and labour. In the 15th C European feudal states like Spain and England expanding within Europe and abroad in the New World. In Africa strong feudal states like Ghana and Mali conquered weak neighbours.

7. Co-existence of modes of production. 
In both Europe and Africa, the feudal modes did not operate independently in the 15th C. While in Europe, capitalism had started emerging within the feudal system, in Africa communalism was still dominant even within feudal societies.


1. In Africa, feudalism evolved from Communal Mode of Production while in Europe from the Slave Mode of Production. In Africa the system arose as class differentiations developed in the communal system while in Europe it emerged from the classes of slave masters and slaves formed during the time of the Roman Empire that practiced Slave Mode of Production

2. Feudalism in Africa was at its early stage of development in most societies in the 15th C. It was still on transition from communalism. Elements of communalism like communal labour were still present in the feudal system of African societies. In Europe however, it had reached the last stage of maturity and transforming to capitalism.

3. In feudal Europe, land was divided in complete portions for different purpose such as the common meadow land for producing hay; common pasture land for cattle grazing; common woodlands for firewood; open fields for cultivation; and common wastelands. In Africa, however this was not the case - land was not divided in complete portions.

4. In Europe, all the three forms of rent; labour rent, rent in kind and rent in cash were in place. In the 15th C money rent was becoming more widely used in Europe due to expansion of commodity production and trade. In Africa only labour rent and rent in kind were applied.

5. In Europe, feudalism operated through formalised laws; the Feudal Justice laws that tied serfs on land for exploitation by the landlords. In Africa however, there were no such laws and thus the system was less exploitative and the serfs enjoyed some freedoms. For example they could freely marry as they did not need the permission of the landlord like it was in Europe.

6. Class formation was broader than in Africa. Feudalism in Europe operated in three broad classes of landlords who were the aristocrats, clergy and rich landlords, peasants who owned small plots of land and serfs who were landless, while in Africa mainly two classes of landlords who in most cases were rulers and tenants the subjects were into existence.

7. In the feudal Europe, the level of science and technology was more advanced than in Africa. Europe had developed high maritime technology to make high sea going vessels and marine compass, firearms, better farming tools like ploughs and more efficient cottage industries that supported foreign trade. Africa had not reached such technological levels like efficient marine technology and farming tools.

8. European strong feudal states carried out expansionism within Europe and abroad to acquire overseas colonies. The colonisation of the New World by European states like Spain, Portugal, England and France is the case highlighted. Nevertheless, with Africa expansionism was only within against the weaker neighbouring societies.

Comparisons of the African and European Political Systems in the 15th C


1. In both Africa and Europe the political systems were still under feudalism.
Their political systems defended the exploitation of peasants and serfs by the ruling classes and rich landlords who controlled property, especially land and political power.

2. Presence of centralised states. 
In the 15th C, Africa and Europe had developed centralised states ruled by Monarchs. They had well organised administrative systems with judiciary and parliamentary systems like in Buganda, the Lukiiko and the Oyo Messi in Oyo Empire and councils of ministers.

3.  Religion was a central part of political systems. 
It was a force of cohesion between rulers and their subjects. In Europe, there were state churches like Catholic Church for states like France and Austria and Anglican Church for England. The church was involved in state governance and kings were approved by the pope. In Africa there were communities’ religions and kings claimed divine powers just like in Europe. In states like Ghana, Buganda and Benin, kings were also religious heads who claimed to be in direct communication with God through the spirits.

4. Hereditary succession. 
There were royal families from which rulers came. Power was always transferred from father to son or daughter or to immediate relative like a brother in case the deceased monarch was childless. Also classes in society were always hereditary; children of landlords were future landlord and same to peasants or serfs.

5. Tendency of expansionism. 
Strong states in Africa and Europe upheld policies of conquest of weaker communities for land, wealth and labour. For example the state of Kangaba expanded to form Mali by annexing her weaker neighbours. European states like England and Spain did not only expand internally but also abroad like in the New World.

6. In Europe and Africa rulers shared same obligations. 
Besides being heads of states, they also served as chief judges and military commanders. They as well controlled means of production, particularly land and organised production and ensured protection.

7. In both, states were directly involved in trade within and outside their states. In the Trans-Saharan Trade for instance, West African states like Ghana, Songhai and Bornu traded with North Africa, Arab and European merchants. In east Africa states like Buganda, Karagwe and Nyamwezi were in contact with coastal Arab, Indian, Swahili and European traders.

8. Co-existence of modes of production. 
In both Europe and Africa, the feudal modes did not operate independently in the 15th C. While in Europe, capitalism had started emerging within the feudal system in Africa communalism was still dominant even within feudal societies.

King Taharqa, Nubia


1.  In the 15th C, the entire Europe was under centralised states like “Spain, England, Holland and France headed by absolute monarchies. Africa had a diversity of political systems. While there were few developed strong centralised states like Bunyoro, Luba, and Mali, other societies were still under clan and Age-set organisations.

2. In the 15th  C, Europe had developed nation states such as Spain, France, England and Holland ruled by despotic monarchies claiming to have “divine powers.” With the nation states, ideas of nationalism became stronger to be glorified as a sign of patriotism to ones nation. In Africa nation states never emerged until colonisation by Europeans in the late 19th C. The states that were in place were only tribal empires.

3. In the 15th C, feudalism in states of Western Europe had reached the mature stage and was in transition to capitalism. In Africa, however many states had just developed the feudal systems. While some societies were just on transition from communalism to feudalism, others were still fully communal. In Europe therefore, political systems were more mature.

4. Military advancement. By the 15th C well trained, equipped with firearms and motivated national armies were present throughout Western Europe. Due to military superiority, European nations conquered and plundered other nations within Europe and abroad for wealth accumulation. African states could not make firearms of their own and could not expand beyond Africa.

5. In Europe, the ruling class structure was broader comprising of the monarchs, aristocracy, Dukes, clergy, Barons and the Knights in that order. Below them were the landlords, peasants and finally serfs. In Africa the ruling structure was very narrow, with the monarch, supportive chiefs/council ministers/elders and common people at the bottom.

6. In Africa most monarchs had both political as well as religious powers. They were seen as representatives of God on earth or religious leaders like in Buganda and Ghana and presided over religious ceremonies while as in Europe, though monarchs worked in hand with churches they were not religious leaders.

7. European states were more expansionists than African states. While as European states expanded both within Europe by conquered their weak neighbours and abroad when they conquered the New World, African states expansionist tendencies were only confined to Africa by only annexing their weak neighbouring states.

English Army


Science is the organised knowledge and skills based on facts that can be proved through experiments and observation. It is a product of research and experiment and thus deals with analysing facts and making conclusions about them.

Technology is the scientific knowledge used practically or is simply the application of scientific knowledge in handling tasks or solving a problem. In simple terms technology is applied science. In that case science and technology are inseparable. They are a product of man’s struggle to master his environment and solve problems for his wellbeing.

In (by) the 15th C, Africa and Europe had reached a recognisable level in the fields of science and technology as analysed below;

Science and Technology in Africa in (by), the 15th C

Africa’s strides in the development of science and technology were indeed tremendous before contact with Europe from 15th C. The continent has the oldest record of human technological achievements in the world. Archaeological discoveries revealed that the oldest stone tools in the world have been found in eastern Africa since 3.3 million years ago in the Turkana Basin (at Lomekwi) as well as the earliest dating of iron working in Africa is 2500 BCE in Sub-Saharan Africa at Egaro and West Africa by 1200 BCE making it one of the first places in the world for the birth of Iron Age. The insatiable demand of man to find solution to his challenges like hunger and insecurity resulted into scientific and technological discoveries and inventions.

Iron Smelting

Science and Technology Development Level of Africa in (by) the 15th C

Scientific and technological aspects attained in Africa by the 15th Century;

a) Metal work technology. 
Archaeological evidences show that Iron technology first appeared in Africa before the Pt millennium BC. In Egypt it’s dated before 2000 BC and from around 700 BC to 600 BC in areas like Meroe, Nok, Axum and Interlacustrine Region. These technologies were remarkable revolution to socio-political and economic systems of Africa. They improved tool and weapon making that boosted production sectors like agriculture and mining and defence.

b) Manufacturing industry. 
Africa had made notable strides in manufacturing industry by the 15th C. Cloth making industries in Guinea, Benin and Yorubaland are said to have been making superior quality cloth than industries in Manchester in England at that time. Leather industries in Morocco were superior that they exported high quality leather made items like clothes, bags and shoes to Europe. Also handcraft industries like bark cloth making, pottery, basketry, mat-making and wood carving had developed throughout the continent.

c) Scientific farming. 
Scientific farming and food technology in the world first developed in Egypt. Being a desert, Egypt developed efficient irrigation system in the flooding plans of river Nile to check droughts. At first they develop Shadoof irrigation system but later advance to basin irrigation system. African societies had passed the Neolithic Revolution and adopted scientific breeding to improve their livestock.

d) Architecture. 
Africa had developed stylish skills in masonry. Well decorated and strong stone houses, were built in North, West Africa and East Africa. The pyramids in Egypt were a product of highly sophisticated stone cutting and architectural technology as well as the Ancient Zimbabwe great walls of about 300 feet high and 20 feet thickness. With such skills towns and cities like Cairo, Alexandria, Timbuktu, Mombasa, Zanzibar and Bagamoyo were developed where the remains of such structures are evident to present day.

e) Medicine making. 
African societies had invented and discovered medicines to control and cure diseases. Medicine was mainly made from identified local herbs and animal products to combat diseases like malaria. Medicine making is a proof that Africans had made steps in medicine, environment and human body sciences.

f) Salt making technology. 
Salt was made by heating (evaporating) sea water. Together with that it was extracted from salty rocks or mining from underground. Prominent salt producing areas included Uvinza, Taghaza, Magadi in central Africa and along the sea (ocean) shores. Africa had also developed a calendar system. Due to knowledge on astronomy and regular flooding of the Nile River and droughts in Egypt, Egyptians invented the calendar of 365 days, 12 months a year, 4 weeks a month and 7 days a week, as solution to identify the flooding and dry months of the Nile. That helped Egyptian plan well for their farming. The calendar is in use to present day.

g) Transport technology. 
Societies along water bodies were developing marine technology with canoe making on major water bodies like along the coasts of Indian and Atlantic oceans, along the shores of lakes like Nyanza (Victoria) and Nyasa. The canoes were used for fishing and ferrying people. Also was the adoption animals like camels, donkeys and horses for transportation purposes. This as well facilitated caravan trade like Trans-Saharan trade.

h) Weapon making. 
Africans had developed scientific skills in weapon making. The invention of iron and bronze working enabled the making of efficient weapons like arrows, spears and shields. Moreover Africans had invented different forms of poisons for killing of enemies and pray by use of poisonous herbs and animals products.

i) Development of Abstract Sciences. 
Africa had developed sciences like mathematics (Algebra) copied from Arabia, astronomy and engineering particularly in Egypt. These helped Egyptians invent many things like the calendar and Metric systems of weights and measures that improved the efficiency in the system of measurements.

j) The mining industry. 
Mining was much developed in Africa with a variety of minerals discovered and extracted from the ground. For example iron was mined in places like Axum (Meroe), Buhaya and Bunyoro since 600-500 BC, copper mining in the Niger and the Congo; gold and silver mines were prominent in ancient Great Zimbabwe, ancient Ghana, Asante kingdom, Kilwa and Sofala. The mining industry was accompanied by processing industries like gold processing, copper and iron smelting.

Irrigation Systems in Egypt

Science and Technology in Europe in the 15th C

In the 15th century Europe had attained the following scientific and technological levels:

a) Advanced transport technology. 
Europe had developed advanced marine technology by inventing ocean-going vessels and marine compass. By such level European sailors and merchants made longer sea routs to contact overseas places around the world. Through that, Christopher Columbus made a successful sea route from Europe to the West Indies in 1492 and Vasco da Gama to the East Coast and India in 1498. Other developments in transport included the invention of horse ridden carts and chariots.

b) Manufacturing industry. 
There was widespread development of advanced cottage industries in Europe that manufactured high quality commodities like cloth, glass, perfumes, beads, and leather items like bags in large quantities for internal and international trade. Western Europe particularly England had proficient guild system through which cottage industries operated.

c) Metalwork technology. 
Copper was the first to be discovered and be used for tool making in Europe. The Bronze Age followed from 2800 BC. This was borrowed from the Middle East and was widely used for tool and weapon making in Europe. The next great development in metallurgy was the discovery of iron that date from 1500 BC. The use of iron brought great changes to Europe. It enhanced tool, machinery and weapon making and brought great development economic sectors mainly agricultural, industrial, transport and trade.

d) Scientific agriculture. 
Scientific agricultural practices such as intercropping and crop rotation were applied in Europe to improve production of food and raw materials. Scientific breeding was applied in sheep and cattle to increase production of wool, meat and leather. Moreover was the use of simple farm machines like ploughs that increased efficiency in production.

e) Sophisticated weapon making technology. 
Europe made sophisticated weapons, firearms besides ordinary weapons like spears and arrows. Advancement in weapon making enabled European states to build strong armies for defence, protect merchants and colonial expansion. That is why they conquered the West Indies and the Americas and dominated high sea trade.

f) Architectural skills. 
Masonry in Europe was at higher stage. Europe had developed skills in brick making and stone cutting that enabled them build towns and cities such as Florence, Amsterdam, Oxford, London and Birmingham. Well decorated high storied buildings were erected and transport infrastructures like roads, bridges and harbours were constructed.

g) Discovery of medicine and disease prevention methods. Europe had made steps the study of medicine and could make medicines to combat diseases. Also disease control methods like quarantine were discovered to control epidemics. Quarantine as introduce in the in the 14th C to control the spread of the Bubonic plague.

h) Paper making and printing press. 
Paper making technology was first invented in China. It reached Europe in 1056 and was first established in Islamic Spain in 1150. By the end of the 16th C, it had spread to entire Europe. The printing press was invented by the German Johannes Gutenberg around 1440 and by 1500, printing press operated throughout Western Europe and had already produced more than twenty million volumes. The tow gave birth to a strong reading culture and book world and above stimulated learning and discoveries.

i) Development of Abstract Sciences. 
Such sciences include mathematics and physics as well as engineering sciences. Such skills later led to emergence of Metric systems of weights and measures that improved the efficiency in the system of measurements. Also led to enormous discoveries that resulted to Industrial Revolution and improvement in the field of medicine.

Agriculture in Europe

Comparisons of the Development of Science and Technology in Africa and Europe in the 15th C


1. Metal work technology. 
Africa and Europe were using iron and bronze technologies by the 15th C. Iron technology in the two continents came to wide use almost at the same, that is, at around 1500 BC as per archaeological findings. The use of metals revolutionalised socio, economic and political lives in both continents.

2. Scientific agriculture. 
Both Africa and Europe had reached considerable developments in agriculture with the application of scientific methods in farming and animal husbandry. Scientific breeding in animals and irrigation for crop production in dry areas like Egypt.

3. Manufacturing industry. 
By the 15th C, the two had similar technologies in commodity production. The two were competing in making better cloth like in Guinea and Benin and England. Other industries shared were leather and glass making in which Morocco made better quality and Egypt made glass that they exported to Europe. Both operated guild system in manufacturing sector like in Benin, Timbuktu and Zimbabwe.

4. Both societies had developed skills in weapons making. 
Weapons were made for self state and people’s security and expansionism and promotion of trade. Europe made firearms alongside ordinary weapons like spears and arrows made by Africans too.

5. Architectural skills. 
Both African and European societies had reached recognisable levels in masonry. They had developed skills in brick making and stone cutting which enabled them erect strong structures that developed towns and cities such Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Alexandria, Timbuktu and Fez in Africa and Amsterdam, London and Paris in Europe.

6. Transport technology. 
They had developed marine transport with Europe making ships and marine compass and Africa making canoes and ability to read the sky to direct their sea routes. Also both had adopted animal transport with animals like horses and donkeys used.

7. Discovery of medicine. 
African as well as European societies had made recognised steps in the study of medicine. Commonly herbal medicine was used to fight disease and the quarantine method was used to control spread of diseases against humans and animals. From herbs Africans made medicines to prevent and combat diseases like malaria and diarrhoea.

8. Both Europe and Africa had not reached the level of capitalism. 
They were still under feudal relations of production though Europe was on initial stage of transitions to capitalism while many African societies were still under communalism with few already in feudalism.

9.  Development of Abstract Sciences. 
African states, particularly Egypt, and European states were developing sciences of mathematics and physics and astronomy as well as engineering. Such skills led to inventions like the Metric systems of weights and measurement and telling of time (calendar).

Building a House in Africa


1. Europe had advanced transport technology. 
Western European states like England and France made stronger high-seas going ships and marine compass that facilitated them to explore the world to contact overseas lands like Africa and the New World. In Africa marine transport technology was at its infant stage. Only canoes could be made for fishing and making shorter water means distances.

2. In Western Europe the cottage industries and guild systems were more advanced than in those Africa. These industries produced larger quantities of higher quality goods for both domestic and foreign markets than the industries in Africa. For example glass ware, perfumes and firearms. With such superior goods, Europe was able to command trade globally.

3. In the case of weapon making, Europe was further ahead of Africa by making more sophisticated and deadly weapons, the firearms on top of usual weapons like arrows and spears. African societies still made ordinary weapons such as spears and arrows.

4. In the field of agriculture, Western Europe was adopting the enclosure system in which scientific breeding was applied on sheep and cattle to increase wool, hides and meat production. With land reclamation and mechanisation after invention of farm machines like ploughs and seed drills more land was opened for cultivation to increase food and raw material production. Africa had not developed enclosure system neither agriculture mechanisation due to low technological development.

5. In the field of agriculture, Western Europe had adopted scientific breeding that was applied on sheep to increase wool, hides and meat (mutton) production. It had also invented farm machines such as ploughs that opened more land for cultivation. Africa had not developed agriculture mechanisation due to low technological development.

6. Europe had invented paper and the printing press. 
By the 15th C, Europe was making paper and had printing presses. Due to this knowledge and learning was spreading fast in Europe. In Africa neither paper making nor printing press technologies were present. Egypt and Ethiopia that had started writing were writing on papyrus.

7. Abstract Sciences. 
Europe had reached a higher stage in developing sciences of mathematics like of algebra, physics and engineering. These led to development of Metric systems of weights that improved the efficiency in the system of measurements. Such sciences were less developed in Africa. It was mainly in Egypt and some states that embraced Islam.

8. Europe was at an advanced stage of feudalism, indeed Western Europe was switching to capitalism in the 15th C whilst most African societies was still communal, a few on transition to feudalism with only a few in Western Sudan like Mali and Songhai, in the Interlacustrine region like Karagwe and Buganda, Egypt and Ethiopia already feudal.

Cottage Industry in Europe


The gap discussed here is the difference in the political, socio-economic and technological development between Africa and Europe. As already noted that by the 15th C, Africa and Europe were almost at par in matters of development but from the 15th C the gap between the two began to widen with Europe progressing further than Africa.

Marxist scholars, notably, Walter Rodney and others like V. I. Lenin and Samir Amin, specify that the widening gap and the subsequent underdevelopment of Africa is accredited to the development of capitalism and the contact of Africa with Europe from the 15th C by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. From that time, Africa remained stagnant principally due to unequal economic relationship which developed between her and Europe. The unbalance exchange and slave trade remain the core factors for the undesired widening gap.

Widening Gap between Europe and Africa

Development by Europe from the 15th C that Widened the Gap between Europe and Africa

1. Agrarian Revolution. 
The fundamental changes made in farming system from the 17th C led to exceptional increase in agricultural output due application of scientific methods. Scientific breeding in sheep increase wool production that boosted textile production. The use of machines like ploughs under the enclosure system increased food production and population.

2. Demographic Revolution. 
This is the rapid population growth. Europe underwent this revolution between the 17th and 18th centuries. Its population rapidly expanded, to other countries it doubled and others went beyond due improved standards of living. This development expanded labour and market and by that it stimulated production and trade.

3. Transport Revolution. 
The unprecedented invention here was the marine technology that was concerned with the making of high-sea going vessels, marine compass, astrolabes, among others. The technology helped Western European powers such as Portugal, Spain, Britain, and France explore the world, acquire colonies and discover sources of wealth. The new technologies that followed included the locomotive and automobiles.

4. Commercial Revolution. 
The revolution known as Mercantilism was the European foreign trade system driven by the desire for collection of bullions from the 15th to 18th C. By the aid of marine technology, western European states like England, Spain and France, discovered new sources of wealth - bullions and raw materials like in the New World where they acquired colonies. By its primitive means of capital accumulation such as unequal exchange, plundering, piracy and slavery Western Europe acquired enormous wealth that sparked off the Industrial Revolution.

5. Political Revolutions. 
The bourgeoisie revolutions that Europe underwent notably, the English Revolution (1640-89) and French Revolution (1789) significantly transformed Europe. They brought in Bourgeoisie governance that discarded the retrogressive feudal system. Remarkably also, the revolutions ushered in democratic governance that encouraged competition and development.

5. Industrial Revolution. 
The revolution that began in England from 1750s marked a change in production methods from hand tools to machines. It was due to invention and application of advanced technological techniques with the use of engine driven machines in production which replaced the cottages industries. The revolution fundamentally energised economic, social, and political life of Europe to dominate and exploit the world.

6. Colonial expansion. 
Western European states notably Britain, France, Spain and Portugal first acquired external colonies in the Caribbean and Americas during the mercantile (15th to 18th C) and later in the 19th C in Africa and Asia. As the colonial system drained the colonised lands that included Africa of their invaluable resources; bullions, raw materials and cheap labour, it enriched Western Europe that robbed the resource from them.

Agrarian Revolution

Factors for the Widening Gap between Africa and Europe

In summary the widening development gap between Africa and Europe from the 15th C was due the following factors.

This was the first stage in the development of capitalism and European foreign trade with overseas lands like Africa, the Americas and Caribbean European mercantile nations plundered the New World and Africa and by means of unequal exchange amassed wealth. The system was destructive to Africa that lost its valuable wealth of bullions, labour (slaves) and raw materials such as the forest products like rubber, wood and palm oil. It was the origin of technological and trade stagnation and dependence.

Role of Mercantilism in widening the development gap between Africa and Europe

a) Mercantilism brought technology stagnation due to; importation of European manufactured goods to Africa which denied African local industries market due to their high quality and slave trade which eroded African skilled craftsmen and artisans to the New World for labour.

b) Exploitation of resources from Africa that was done through unequal exchange where Africans valuable resources like gold, silver and ivory and labour (slaves) were taken by European merchants for cheap European manufactured goods such as, beads and cloth.

c) Decline of inter African trading system that were overshadowed by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Both local and regional trading patterns like the Trans-Saharan trade which boomed before mercantilism declined since many Africans preferred trading with the European merchants other than fellow African societies and the Middle East.

d) The system led to the downfall of some states. Some states crumbled by attacks from more powerful states for slaves and wealth like gold and silver needed by European traders. Slave trade also robbed them of their badly needed labour force for development. Mercantilism spread diseases to Africa. Interaction with the European merchants exposed Africans to diseases such as small pox, measles, syphilis and gonorrhea carried by European merchants. Since then, the diseases have been claiming lot of lives in Africa and consume a lot state funds in fighting them.

e) It led to depopulation with a large number of African productive youths ageing between 15 and 35 shipped to the Americas as slaves. Additionally famine, raids and wars of slave capture also claimed lives of many Africans. Surely, numerous cultures lost generations of their fittest, young and able due slave trade.

f) Mercantilism contributed to the distortion of African culture and heritage. In contacting Europeans, many Africans adopted European ways of life like languages and dressing codes. Embracing new culture meant subjection to foreign interference and dependence.

g) It exposed Africa to the future colonization of Africa. Through mercantilism, Africans economic potentialities such as minerals, fertile lands and abundant labour were uncovered to the European nations. After industrial revolution, European industrial powers viewed Africa as a solution to their industrial demands.

h) In contacting the European merchants, some Africans adopted Christianity. This brought a new aspect in Africa, that created divisions based on religions as societies were torn apart between Christians and Non Christians.

Therefore mercantilism integrated Africa into capitalist economic system by which Africa is robbed of her precious human and physical resources. It disturbed Africa’s economic and socio-political settings and ushered in a period technological stagnation and dependence.


How Mercantilism benefited Europe

a)  Amassment of wealth by European mercantile powers such as Britain, France and Spain particularly bullions by exploiting other continents, mainly Africa and the New World through unequal exchange, plundering and slavery. The wealth was the capital they invested in other sectors like industry.

b) Mercantilism contributed to the advancement of European science and technology beginning with the Marine technology which was its backbone. It also stimulated Industrial Revolution by increased invention so as to meet the increasing market demands of their domestic and overseas markets.

c) It led to the development of ports, towns and cities. City ports like Liverpool, Manchester, Marseilles and Amsterdam developed as commercial centres and landing sites handling commodities to and from the overseas. Other towns like Yorkshire, Lancashire and Paris developed as manufacturing centres producing trading items.

d) Mercantilism led to development of financial institutions. This was due to increased accumulation of wealth by the merchants. Banks such as Barclays (1756) and insurance houses were born. They encouraged trade by providing capital in forms of loans and credits.

e) It provided Europe with abundant cheap labour. Through Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the trade known for its greatest human trafficking, millions of African slaves were exported to the New Worlds to provide cheap labour in the capitalist established mines and plantations.

f) The system acquired European states colonies. European mercantile states made colonial expansion in the New Worlds. For example; Britain possessed the 13 North American colonies, Jamaica and Trinidad; Portugal had Brazil, Spain had Mexico, Argentina, Chile and etc. Colonies were exploited as sources of bullions, raw materials and markets.

g) It gave rise and expansion of commercial classes of merchants. Expansion of local and overseas trade attracted many to abandon their old activities in favour of trade. This led to the rise of a rich aristocratic merchant class which transformed Europe to capitalism.

h) Opened and strengthened trans-continental links. Mercantilism established ties between Europe and other continents like Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia that still exist. The links provide Europe with wider trading and exploitation zones.

i) Mercantile states such as Britain, France, Holland, Spain and Portugal emerged into powerful states in the world economically and politically due to huge wealth accumulated by exploiting other continents during mercantilism. Mercantilism was largely responsible for Industrial Revolution.

While the notorious slave trading activities of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade enriched European nations with wealth from the lucrative trade in slaves and abundant cheap labour to work in their colonial plantations and mines in the Americas and Caribbean, it drained Africa of its large number of valuable manpower ‘Which would have been vital for her prosperity. It led to depopulation and serious economic and technological retardation.

Role of slave trade in widening development gap between Africa and Europe

a) Slave trade led to depopulation. 
A large number of African productive youths ageing between 15 and 35 were shipped to the Americas and Caribbean as slaves. The lost African labour force was taken enrich European powers.

b) Slave was responsible for technological stagnation in Africa. 
The trade robbed Africa of its energetic labour that included skilled craftsmen and artisans. Also overflow of European manufactured goods that were exchanged for slaves in Africa killed market for the locally manufactured goods and that led to death of local technologies.

c) Decline of inter African trading system. 
Both local and regional trading patterns that boomed before slave trade declined and their positions were occupied by slave trade system across the Atlantic. Trade in slaves proved more lucrative than trade in natural items like agricultural goods.

d) Downfall of some states. 
Some states crumbled by attacks from more powerful states for slaves and wealth like gold and silver needed by European traders. Slave trade also robbed them of their badly needed labour force for their development.

e) Rise of state of fear and insecurity. 
Slave trade devastated African societies by introducing guns which encouraged frequent inter-society wars for slave raiding. Societies were destabilized hence could hardly concentrate on economic development.

f) Slave trade led to occurrence of famine due to agricultural decline caused by destabilizations by frequent slave raiding. Suddenly also slave trade led to labour shortage in farms and over concentration of many societies on trade and abandoning agriculture.

g) African families were torn apart. 
Countless African families were torn apart as some members were captured and exported to the New World as slaves while the lucky ones who escaped slavery in the New Worlds remained in Africa as shocked lonely remnants.

h) Slave trade paved way for the colonization of Africa. The Atlantic Slave Trade exposed

Africa’s economic potentials such as minerals, fertile lands and abundant labour to the European nations. After Industrial Revolution, European industrial powers viewed Africa as a solution to their industrial demands. Moreover, the trade deprived African of its energetic youth that led to depopulation that weaken resistance against European colonial invasion.

Slave Trade

This was the crudest means of exploitation responsible for boosting Europe higher and holding Africa back. The system was the heaviest blow :o Africa’s development. It profoundly destroyed the self-sufficient economic and technological development in Africa. Massive labour and resource exploitation done oy colonial powers by siphoning large amount of land resources like cash crops, and minerals to Europe. The bitter repercussion however, was the consolidation of dependence syndrome on which neo-colonialism survives.

Role of colonialism in the widening the development gap between Africa and Europe

a) Exploitation of resources was the major agenda of colonialism. 
Massive land resources, notably, cash crops and minerals were cheaply acquired from the colonies and siphoned to Europe to enrich metropolitan countries. Moreover, such crude exploitation was done by using African labour that was forced to bear with forceful labour with punitive punishments and the poorest pay and working conditions.

b) Colonial education was another tool for underdevelopment in Africa. 
It was education for mental retardation, dependence and westernisation. It left a scar of brainwashing Africans and certainly most of its recipients are more of westernised people than true elites. The education is not scientifically and technologically oriented like that provided in Europe and so fixed African for dependence on western powers.

c) Colonialism led to technological retardation in Africa. 
Better quality items imported in to the colonies phased-out local industries from production. Along with that Africans were prohibited from making certain items and punitive punishments that included amputation, flogging and imprisonment were put on those who did not comply with the directives.

d) Moreover, colonialism implanted divisionism in Africa. Internationally, 
African states were divided along the alliances of their colonial master to become for example Anglo-Phones or Franco-phones. Internally they were divided into regional, racial and religious lines that exposed them to regional imbalance, religious conflicts, civil wars and inter-state wars.

e) Colonial system destroyed African trading system. 
Local and regional trading systems between African societies were substituted with the exploitative unbalanced colonial export-import trade. In the process African self-sustaining economies were weakened as the continent was turned towards dependence on exportation of raw materials cheaply and importation of expensive manufactured goods from Europe.

f) Colonialism destroyed Africa’s political systems. 
Colonialism destroyed the well systematic independent pre-colonial African political systems and replaced by new system that served as appendage to metropolitan countries in Europe while African chiefs served as colonial servants. The political systems inherited from the colonial masters have indeed set the continent into political and economic crises that have indeed destabilised African countries.

g) Colonialism was responsible for culture alienation in Africa. 
African culture was distorted for Africans to embrace western culture like dressing codes and eating styles. Adoption of foreign culture has some economic complications, it changed African consumption styles and brainwashed Africans by strengthening their dependence on Europe.

Colonialism in Africa

This is an indirect continuation of colonialism in Third World to maintain foreign control and exploitation. Neo-colonialism maintains unbalanced terms of trade as the Western imperialist countries control world market and exploits Africa by price fixing; it also maintains technological backwardness like through dumping. Western powers also engineer political instabilities to plant puppet regimes, make business by selling arms and retard economic progress in Africa. Above all, they dictate policies that have kept Africa behind.


This is the means of making the world a single global village. It is aided by the wide advancement of technology in the fields of transport and communication systems aided by invention of the internet. Though such developments are useful, they are on the other hand used to undermine development efforts and independence of Third World countries. They are used by developed powers to spy the Third World, sabotage plans and incite political-economic chaos; are a means of culture distortion. Through social media, dubious habits like homosexuality, prostitution, rape and drug use are encouraged in Africa.


Role of neo-colonialism and globalisation in the widening gap between Africa and Europe

a) Foreign aid is most common method used by neo-colonial powers to keep Africa behind. The aid given is only for business purposes and has strings attached. Loans carry high interest and hard conditions which fail African debtor countries to benefit from them. In the end African countries are fixed into a cycle of debts. All these have fixed African countries into foreign control, drained their resource and made them dependants on foreign assistance.

b) Foreign investments from imperialist states also have detrimental impacts of Africa. This is done to export finance capital by Multinational Corporations like Coca Cola, GBP and Unilever which are making abnormal profits of which the largest part is repatriated to their mother countries. According to UN data, total foreign direct investments in Africa hit $ 43.4 billion in 2011 and had increased to $ 45.8 billion in 2013 that explains how it still counts as a major means of draining resources like minerals and labour from Africa.

c) Control of world market by imperialist countries to maintain trade imbalance against Africa is another major strategy used to exploit Africa. They fix low prices for primary goods like minerals, and agricultural goods exported by African countries and higher prices of manufactured goods imported by Third World countries from them.

d) The education system most African countries are still stuck on, are of the colonial type. Most syllabuses are Western based and some courses trained in colleges and universities are irrelevant to Africa. Education provided is lacking a pragmatic approach and the medium of instructions maintained are the colonial masters’ languages. Indeed education systems are still serving the imperialist interests like mental retardation and cultural transfusion.

e) Political interference by neo-colonial powers is another stumbling block. Western imperialist powers dictate constitutional changes on African countries to put systems of their favour. They stir political instabilities in forms of border conflicts, secessionist movements like in Nigeria (1967) and Sudan, coup d’├ętats to overthrow anti-western regimes like the coup d’├ętat that overthrew Kwame Nkrumah in 1966 and the civil war that led to the overthrow and murder of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The instabilities that are also engineered for business to sale old military technology have put Africa’s development at stake.

f) Technological restrictions by imperialist powers. Western powers do all in their capability to monopolise technological development and maintain low technological development in Africa. For instance Libya was prohibited to develop nuclear technology by western imperialist powers. By use of patent and trade marks they restrict African countries making same products they manufacture. Also is dumping of old technology in Africa.

g) The rising expatriate syndrome and brain drainage is also a block to development in Africa. There is dependence on experts from imperialist powers for technical assistances. The experts demand huge salaries and higher facilitations like expensive vehicles and repatriate large parts of aid given. In the same way Africa lose large parts of their scarce skilled labour to the very developed countries where they fly to in search for greener pastures.

h) Cultural imperialism is another element. Official languages adopted by most African countries are colonial languages which were intended to consolidate foreign culture and divisions and maintain dependence on the western powers. Moreover, dubious tendencies like homosexuality, prostitution and awkward dressing styles, are enforced on Africa directly through threats and cut off aid and indirectly through novels, magazines, movies and social media which also portray Westerners as superior to all others peoples.

Role of Africa in the Widening Gap with Europe

It is unwise to shift the whole blame on Europe and the developed world for Africa’s economic, technological and political problems and stagnation. To a certain recognisable degree Africa is responsible for her slow progress. The discussion below supports the argument.

1. Low scientific and technology development. 
Little efforts have been put on science education and research to encourage technological development. As a result, economic sectors like agriculture and industry have remained backward. Due to this, Africa has remained dependant on developed countries for expensive technology and manufactured goods.

2. Mono-culture. 
Most African countries are failing to break away from one-product economies inherited from colonialists. They are mostly agro-based and moreover depend on exportation of single cash crops such as Ghana and Ivory Coast on cocoa. Others depend on only mining of a single product like Zambia with copper. With low diversification Africa is disadvantaged in international trade due to frequent fall in the world prices of their main products.

3. Political Instabilities. 
Many African Countries suffer from civil wars, border conflicts, secessionist wars and imperialist invasions like on Libya (2011). Some of the worse wars were in Ethiopia, DRC, Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola and Mozambique. Political chaos is also caused by Anti-West fundamentalist groups like Al-Qaida and Al-Shabab. The instabilities ruin Africa’s economies and indeed cripple economic growth.

4. Education System. 
Most African countries are still embracing the largely irrelevant education systems inherited from the colonial masters. Indeed education offered is more unrealistic. It lacks practical, scientific and technological orientation needed for development of innovative skills to its recipients and thus does not directly cater for the prevailing needs of Africa. For example it doesn’t stress on agriculture yet it is the backbone of most African countries.

5. Poor planning and poor implementation of plan. 
Planning does not correspond with available resources leading to deficit budgets and borrowing. With that, there is poor utilisation of resources. For example having broader government structures than required and many professionals in politics yet there is general lack of sufficient skilled labour like doctors, engineers and teachers.

6. Corruption. 
This is a great obstacle to Africa’s development. Corruption is mainly due to selfish attitude held by some officials who embezzle state income into their pockets to amass wealth for their own individualistic purposes than to cater for the public needs. Worse of all, embezzled funds are either invested or banked in foreign countries where they mainly benefit citizens of those countries leaving nationals of where the money comes from suffering.

7. Slow Infrastructure development. 
Poor development of social and economic infrastructure contributes to the widening gap. Large parts of African countries are remote; lacking efficient transport and communication systems to propel economic progress. That has contributed to poor economies particularly trade, agriculture and industry. Also, social infrastructure like hospitals and schools are inadequate contributing to poor health and ignorance.

8. Poor disease and disaster control. 
Africa is always hit with diseases mostly malaria and AIDS and natural calamities such as such as drought, floods and earth quakes like in Kagera region of Tanzania in 2016. The two claims a lot of labour force and compel governments to spend their scarce money on controlling them. In conjunction to that the natural hazards contribute to economic retardation by destroying infrastructure and agriculture.

9. Rapid population increase. 
African countries’ population is said to be growing faster than governments’ abilities to cater for it more sufficiently. Alongside its rapid growth, a large part of this population is in the dependant group of age 1-17 years and poor, lacking adequate basic needs like shelter and food. With such population structure governments are burdened to spend large parts of incomes on social needs and subsidies on their poor populations.

Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire (Congo-Kinshasa) is said to be one among the corrupt leaders in Africa

Impacts of the Widening Gap between Africa and Europe

a) Impact on Africa

1. Dependence. 
The development gap between Africa and Europe planted and consolidated the dependence syndrome in Africa since the 15th C. African since then depends on Europe for technology (manufactured goods) and market for her primary goods like minerals and cash crops.

2. Technological retardation. 
As the development gap widened, technological development in that. Goods from Europe were superior in quality; this made locally manufactured goods lose market and thus local technology declined.

3. Exploitation of resources. 
This exploitation is mainly through unequal exchange by which Africa exchanged high valued goods like minerals and raw materials for cheap manufactured goods from the capitalist world. Untold exploitation was done under the colonialism and now by neo-colonialism.

4. Colonisation and neo-colonialism on Africa. 
Industrial Revolution led to the gap between Africa and Europe. The revolution led to competition for industrial demands such as raw materials and market that pushed imperialist powers to invade and colonise Africa to acquire the demands. After independence, the system transformed to neo-colonialism.

5. Africa has been made a dumping place of the developed world. 
Due to her low technology Africa has been made market for old technologies such as military technology, automobiles and garments that are imported to her from the developed countries at low prices or given as donations.

6. Culture distortion. 
The feeling of inferiority implanted to Africans due the widening gap, colonialism and neo-colonialism has led to culture distortion in the continent. Africans are ready to adopt all sorts of cultural norms from the west due their inferiority complex.

The consequences of the widening gap have subjected Africa to poverty. The dependence on developed world has undermined the sovereignty of African states. Through their technological advancement the developed world has continued plundering the continent to tap valuable resources like minerals and cash crops at low costs.

Poverty in Africa

b) Impact on Europe

The widening gap works in favour of Europe and the entire developed world in general and so, it has positive impacts on Europe.

1. Building colonial empires. 
The material and technological developments in Western Europe since the 15th C enabled them conquer backward societies. States like Spain, Portugal, England, and France first possessed colonies in the Caribbean and America, then later, from the last part of the 19th C in Africa. Colonisation acquired Europe wealth in forms of cheap raw materials, markets and expanded investment horizons.

2. Exploitation of resources. 
Europe intensely exploits less developed countries by means of unequal exchange due to her technological advancement. Africa exchange precious high valued goods like Africa became stagnant. The importation of European manufactured goods in the content largely accounts for minerals and raw materials for cheap technology and manufactured goods from the capitalist world.

3. Technological advancement. 
Europe has made serious strides in science and technology due to the dependence of the less developed world on her for technology needs. The reliance of less developed world on supplies of manufactured goods from Europe motivates European manufactures make more inventions to march the expanding domestic and external markets.

4. Market expansion. 
As the development and technological widening gathered pace, Europe became the workshop of the world. She became the supplier of manufactured goods and made the world her market to dispose her excess goods.

5. Rise of powerful states. 
Powers that dominated world politics and economies first emerged in Europe due to their political, economic and technology advancement. Major Western European states such as Britain and France plundered the world collecting wealth and acquired colonies from which they cheaply gathered the largest amount resources that enriched them.

6. Neo-colonialism. 
The widening gap has strengthened neo-colonial system. Imperialist powers, maintain a strong hand on Third World to keep them stagnant and maintain exploitation. Neo-colonialism operates by a number of means including foreign aid, control of world market and engineering political instabilities by the western developed powers.

Unless the exploitative chains with the imperialist developed countries are broken, it will be very difficult for Africa to develop. Africa should unite on matters concerning their welfare and prosperity. Moreover, it should be known that relationship between Africa and the developed countries is exploitative. European countries use their economic, technological and political development to exploit the Africa.

Paris, Europe

Sample Revision Questions

1. Discuss four roles and four impacts of trade on pre colonial African societies.

2.  Explain six significances of exchange in the society

3. Show three similarities and three difference in the African and trading system in the 15th c

4. Elaborate six effects of the Long Distance trade in the political and economic development East and central Africa up to the 19th century. (NECTA 2013)

5.  By using six points, analyse the impact of the intercontinental trade on the development of European political, social and economic systems in the 15th century. (NECTA 2016)

6.  Analyse the social impact of trade contacts between Europe and Africa in the 15th century. (Give three points for each continent). (NECTA 2017)

7. Explain the level of political development in Africa and Western Europe in the 15th century.

8. Analyse three similarities and three differences between African and European feudal system during the 15th century. (NECTA 2015)

9. Show in six points the level of technological development reached by Africa in 15th century.

10. Compare and contrast the level of development of science and technology between African and European societies in the 15th century.

11. Analyse the factors which contributed to the rise of the gap in development between western Europe and Africa since the 15th century

12. Discuss the factors for the rise of the gap between Western Europe and Africa between the 17th and 19th centuries.

13. Elaborate eight factors that favoured the development of Europe at the expense of Africa between the 15th and 20th centuries. (NECTA 2012)

14. Discuss six factors which accelerated disparity in development between Africa and Western Europe from the 15th century. (NECTA 2014) 

15. Marine technology played a big role in the widening of the gap between Africa and Europe. Comment with six arguments.

16. By the 15th century African societies were developing in the line with western European societies. Analyse the statement with clear evidences.

17. Despite Africa and Europe were almost at the same level of development in the 15th C, Europe was ahead of Africa in some aspects. Show the validity of the statement in six points.

18. Analyse the social, political and economic development attained by Africa by the 15th C.

19. Use six points to distinguish the level of development between Africa and Europe in the 15th century. (NECTA - Private Candidates 2015)

20. Africa developed Western Europe, in the same proportion Western Europe underdeveloped Africa. Justify.


  1. I was passing through this material, real are so suitable for teaching the students since they contain important hints and full information which will help students to gain knowledge about Africa and Europe during 15th Century

  2. I have a question, why there were variation on level of development after the contact between Africa and Europe in 19th century

  3. Nice notes and I want to get these notes how can I get??? You help please