The ‘private’ face of African Development Planning during World War Two

Frank, Billy orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6789-078X (2014) The ‘private’ face of African Development Planning during World War Two. In: Developing Africa: Concepts and Practices in Twentieth-Century Colonialism. Studies in Imperialism . Manchester University Press (MUP), Manchester. ISBN 978-0-7190 8579

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In 1942, Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) launched an essay competition for its staff on the subject of ‘The Bank in relation to post-war colonial development’. In modern business parlance, this ‘knowledge management’ exercise evinces an interesting insight into capitalist concerns and ideas in relation to colonial economic development and colonial administration in British Africa during WWII. In particular, it demonstrates the expatriate business community’s disaffection with the British record of economic development and a complete lack of faith in the Colonial Office’s ability to forge development policy without the aid of the business community. These essays made numerous proposals: ideas to extend banking facilities for indigenous populations, better support for local business and agriculture, and an increase in the availability of medium and long-term finance for business, the extension of co-operative farming methods, changes to education policy in Britain’s African colonies, the creation of a permanent economic staff in colonial governments, and the future federation of certain African colonies. The arguments advanced by the essayists are a significant and underused historical source and this chapter seeks to place them in the historical context of the wider efforts by the imperial government to plan for post-war colonial development.

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