The African Commodity Trade Database (ACTD) aims to stimulate and deepen research on African and global economic history. The database provides export and import series at product level for more than two and a half centuries of African trade (1737-2010). The ACTD consists of three main parts which are continuously updated as we retrieve additional sources. Currently data for the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century are available below.

AUTHORS: Ewout Frankema, Angus Dalrymple-Smith, Pieter Woltjer, Leandre Bulambo


The ACTD consists of three parts: Pt. 1 covers the period 1737-1808 and presents the quantities (q) and official prices (p_off) of commodities coming from West Africa based on the British Customs Records (BCR); Pt. 2 covers the period 1808-1939 and presents the nominal value (v), quantities (q), prices (p), Terms-of_Trade (ToT), nominal export (ex) and import (im) values of a large set of commodities coming from various regions in sub-Saharan Africa; Pt. 3 covers the post-war period and will become available shortly.

file variables regions years # obs.
icn_excel ACTD_1737t1808_v1_0 [Pt. 1] q, p_off WA 1737-1808 9,850
icn_excel ACTD_1808t1939_v1_3 [Pt. 2] v, q, p, ToT, ex, im WA, EA, SA, IA 1808-1939 57,000

Sources and Methods

file description
icn_pdf ACTD_1808t1939_notes [Pt. 2] Methods and Nomenclature for ACTD 1808-1939

Supplementary Materials

file description
icn_zip ACTD_1697t1808_raw_data [Pt. 1] unprocessed, raw data from the BCR, 1697-1808


IMPORTANT: the data underlying ‘African Commodity Trade Database‘ are freely available as long as the article below is cited appropriately:

Frankema, Ewout, Jeffrey Williamson and Pieter Woltjer. “An Economic Rationale for the West African Scramble? The Commercial Transition and the Commodity Price Boom of 1835-1885.” The Journal of Economic History 78, no. 1 (2018): 231-267.

Future Updates

  • Market prices African commodities, 1730-1808
  • Coastal prices African commodities French colonies, 1885-1939
  • Values and quantities African trade, 1945-2010

Older Vintages

file variables regions years date pub.
icn_excel ACTD_1808t1939_v1_0 [Pt. 2] v, q, p WA, EA, SA, IA 1808-1939 20-12-2016
icn_excel ACTD_1808t1939_v1_1 [Pt. 2] v, q, p WA, EA, SA, IA 1808-1939 02-03-2017
icn_excel ACTD_1808t1939_v1_2 [Pt. 2] v, q, p, ex, im WA, EA, SA, IA 1808-1939 25-06-2017

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