Chapter 11Textile Production and Trade

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Kate Frederick


Africa has had difficulty industrializing during the 20th and 21st centuries. However, the continent has a long history of manufacturing. By the beginning of the colonial period, numerous parts of sub-Saharan Africa had developed handicraft textile traditions similar to those that served as a jumping-off point for industrialization in other world regions. But many of these industries declined by the 20th century. This industrial decline was most pronounced in East Africa, whereas hand-weaving industries continued much longer in West Africa. This chapter explores the history of handicraft textile manufacturing in these two regions to uncover key factors that affected the ability of domestic textile industries to thrive.


Frederick, Katharine (2020). “Textile production and trade”, In Ewout Frankema, Ellen Hillbom, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani and Felix Meier zu Selhausen (eds.), The History of African Development: An Online Textbook for a New Generation of African Students and Teachers. African Economic History Network.

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