BlackFacts Details

The Challenges African States Faced at Independence

When African states gained their independence from Europes colonial empires, they faced numerous challenges starting with their lack of infrastructure. 

One of the most pressing challenges African states faced at Independence was their lack of infrastructure. European imperialists prided themselves on bringing civilization and developing Africa, but they left their former colonies with little in the way of infrastructure.

The empires had built roads and railroads - or rather, they had forced their colonial subjects to build them - but these were not intended to build national infrastructures. Imperial roads and railways were almost always intended to facilitate the export of raw materials. Many, like the Ugandan Railroad, ran straight to the coast line.

These new countries also lacked the manufacturing infrastructure to add value to their raw materials. Rich as many African countries were in cash crops and minerals, they could not process these goods themselves. Their economies were dependent on trade, and this made them vulnerable. They were also locked into cycles of dependencies on their former European masters. They had gained political, not economic dependencies, and as Kwame Nkrumah - the first prime minister and president of Ghana - knew, political independence without economic independence was meaningless.

The lack of infrastructure also meant that African countries were dependent on Western economies for much of their energy. Even oil-rich countries did not have the refineries needed to turn their crude oil into gasoline or heating oil. Some leaders, like Kwame Nkrumah, tried to rectify this by taking on massive building projects, like the Volta River hydroelectric dam project.

The dam did provide much needed electricity, but its construction put Ghana heavily into debt. The construction also required the relocation of tens of thousands of Ghanaians, and contributed to Nkrumahs plummeting support in Ghana. In 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown. 

AT Independence, there were several presidents, like Jomo

Cuisine Facts

National Trust for Historic Preservation