Module Nine

Introduction to Module Nine: African Economies

This module, comprised of nine learning activities, is one of the longest in Exploring Africa! The completion of all the activities in this module may take three to four 50-minute class periods. Teachers may choose to teach the entire module or select from among the learning activities.

PURPOSE: This module will introduce students to the economics of Africa. In accomplishing this goal, the learning activities will illustrate and increase student understanding of economic concepts that have been introduced in prior social studies classes.

Economics is the study of the production and distribution of wealth. Wealth is created by the production and distribution of goods and services. Economics can be studied at various levels or locations, for example, family/household, local community, state/province, nation, and global levels. The learning activities in this module will examine economic processes; that is, the production and distribution of goods and services, at the local, national, regional, and continental levels, and will emphasize Africa's economic global connections.

In addressing economic processes and practices in contemporary Africa, three underlying themes will be featured. First, economic systems and practices in Africa are historically situated. That is, to understand current economics students have to understand the historical contexts in which economic practices and relationships developed. Secondly, there is a great deal of economic diversity in Africa. And thirdly, Africa's economies are closely linked to the global economy.

A Note on Photographs.

Throughout this lesson numerous photographs will be used. It is important to remember that photographs do not represent the "ways things are." A photograph of a farmer plowing in a Zambia is not representative of all farmers in Africa. Such a photograph is just one among many possible representations of farming in Africa, just as a photograph of you playing your favorite game gives only one snapshot of American adolescents at play.

Photos are used in this lesson to help illustrate economic activities and practices in Africa, and they do not represent a uniform way in which people engage in the economic process.


In this module students will be introduced to a number of unfamiliar economic terms and concepts. We have developed a glossary of economic terms used in the module. When unfamiliar words and concepts are used for the first time they will be italicized and underlined. By clicking on the underlined word students will linked to the glossary.


  1. How are basic needs and wants met in African economies?
  2. What are the main modes/methods of production in Africa?
  3. How did innovations in agriculture and food production lead to economic specialization and diversification in Africa?
  4. What role did trade play in the development of African kingdoms?
  5. What was the economic impact of the slave trade on Africa?
  6. How did colonialism change economic practice in African countries?
  7. How has Globalization effected African economies?


After completing this module the students will have:

  1. A clearer understanding of the diversity of economic practices in Africa.
  2. An appreciation of the importance of history in forming economic practice.
  3. A better understanding of Africa's position in the global economy.
  4. The ability to think more critically about economic practices and relationships.

Begin this module with Activity One or go to one of the other activities in the module

Teachers Notes