The Great Economic Depression was the severe worldwide economic decline that took place from 1929 to 1933.


Was the worst period in the industrial nations characterized by low production, low sale and high rate of business failure and unemployment.

It started in USA and spread to Europe and others parts of capitalist world such as Britain, Canada, Italy, France, Austria and their colonies. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (Russia) was not affected. It is alternatively known as Great Depression or Economic Slump.


Intensive exploitation over the Africans. The Africans were forced to provide more so as to maintain income they used to get before the crisis, the government started cutting down the cost of running the government and also through taxation on the Africans the colonial government decided to increase tax on the Africans so as to rise revenue.

Mass Unemployment World Wide there was massive redundancy of wages lab ours that particular group faced economic and social hardship. For example 30 million people had no job by 1932.

Fall of prices in agricultural crops. The fall of production in Europe went together with the fall of market for primary product; hence the Africans were unable to sell their export crops at reasonable price. Also this led to the fall of agricultural production, planters and settlers deserted their farms leaving them without close settlers deserted their farms leaving them without close supervision. The Africans shifted from cash crops to food crop cultivation

Decline of social services. The colonial government cut out services such as education and medical services. The Africans had to pay for those services

Fall in agriculture and industrial productions due to over production of goods which were not purchased by consumers.

Fall of the World international trade from 1929-1933.

Closure and poor performance of banks in the capitalist countries. For example, 5000 American banks closed by 1932.

Low wages, food shortages and poor social services were common problems during the economic depression


Domestic over production. There was too much production of goods which was experienced in USA and Europe that lacked market and caused overproduction and low market hence the fall in production in 1929.

High protective tariffs by USA on the imported goods from Europe. The European countries decided to impose tariffs on USA’s goods. This caused piling of goods that couldn’t be sold (over production).

Unequal distribution of income. Capitalists paid workers low wages which reduced the purchasing power rate of the working class who were the majority.

The fall of stock of exchange in USA in October 29, 1929. This made business to collapse as people were selling their shares and others withdrew their money from industries, banks and farms. Companies could not continue with production neither could they sale their products. They closed business and sack of workers.

It was the period when people were expecting depression to occur hence they started to produce more goods also in industries and farmers produce a lot of products and as an outcome the depression did not occur and resulted to overproduction of goods which could not be sold, that is high supply and low demand.

Less government control of capitalists’ economy. Capitalists were left to produce freely without government determination of the quantity of commodities demanded in the market. This made markets to be saturated with too much unsold goods. This caused problem of high supply and low demand in 1920’s.

The impacts of the First World War. The war ruined the capitalist economies hence they look for alternative steps to revive their economies by constructing more industries which led to over production of goods which lacked market.



Increase in colonial economic exploitation especially in agriculture e.g. increased forced labor, land alienation etc.

Fall of price of agriculture products e.g. Price of sisal fell from 32 per ton in 1929/30 to 12 per ton in 1931/32.

Fall of wages e.g. Wage of sisal cutter in Tanga fell from 30 TSH per month to 15 TSH per month in 1935.

Fall of government revenue e.g. from Tsh 750,000 in 1929 to Tsh 450,000 in 1931/32.

Massive unemployment due to low prices of agriculture products; many settlers in Kenya and Usambara left their farms thus leaving many workers out of work.

Reduction of government expenditure on social services like medical services and schools. Africans were given poor social services than before the Great Depression.

To Tanganyika and Africa because they raised people’s consciousness about exploitation thus resulted in Nationalism and the rise of anti –colonial union in 1945.


Unemployment, many people lost their jobs due to closure of industries and companies.

Reduction of wages which reduced people’s purchasing power which cause more closing of industries and unemployment.

Fall of production in industries due to lack of markets.

Overproduction in USA, Britain and other countries.

The growth of Military dictatorship in Europe. E.g. Germany under Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party in 1933, and Italy under Mussolini and his fascism party.

Financial institution such as banks had no money hence some were closed down.

Germany failed to pay for the war reparation to European allies and its debt to USA.

Economic nationalism emerged where by nations formed united fronts in order to get out of Great Economic Depression e.g. New deal in USA where government provided money and other helps to industries, farmers, banks, in order to continue with production and revive the economy.


Colonial government made it compulsory to produce cash crops e.g. British obliged the peasants in Buganda and the Sukuma of Tanganyika to produce cotton. In Gambia the British established the Groundnuts Scheme.

The colonial government increased taxation to set more income. The methods of collecting taxes were harsher than before the period of depression.

Massive land alienation to produce more raw materials to revive European economy.

Settlers were encouraged to conduct research to get better seeds of cotton, tobacco, tea and others.

Forced labor was intensified to recover capitalist economy. Because the colonialist had a high demand of labour in settlers farms and plantations to recover the capitalist economy that was badly affected by the great depression.

The colonial government expanded education for training agricultural instructors in the colonies. By the late 1930’s Makerere Technical College which had been opened in Uganda in 1921 offered training in agriculture and carpentry to most East Africans. Also Tanganyika was built with the capacity of training 70 up to 100 students.


Discuss the causes and effects of the First World War on East Africa.

What were the causes and effects of the Second World War on East Africa?

How the First World War did affected Europe Nations?

Explain the effects of the World War II in European counties.

Identify the causes of the Great Economic Depression of 1929/1933.

What were the effects of the Great Economic Depression to East Africa?

Show how Europe and USA were affected by the Great Economic depression of the 1930s.

Mention the measures taken against the effect of the Great Economic Depression on Europe.

Account for the rise of U.S.A. as the leading imperialist power after the Second World War.

How did the Great depression affect East Africa and what were solutions to the problems?

Explain the main causes of the First World War

Discuss the effects of the two World wars on the East African countries

Discuss the measures taken to overcome the problems of the Second World War in the African colonies



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