Although the Portuguese explorers were the first to reach the west coast of Africa, setting up camps, colonies and asserting their control over the people across the African continent by establishing specific administration systems in the late 15th Century, the administration systems used throughout Africa would be judged and debated on the systems incorporated by the French and British colonialists in the 19th Century (Shillington, 2005: 354). The French and English, until African Independence in the mid 1900’s, possessed the majority of states on the continent and, in addition, the English possessed the most important entity on the African continent, the Nile (Farwell, 1989:154). The French and British colonialists were able to, and needed to, maintain their growing empires with the aid of successful and well established administration systems that ensured the proper organization and arrangement of the states controlled by the two foreign empires. The Portuguese colonialists and the European powers that would follow suit in “The Scramble for Africa” (Fage, 1997:376) would follow the examples and systems set out by the French and British empires throughout their colonies.
The following essay will compare and contrast the colonial administration systems of the French, British, Portuguese, Belgian and German states on the African continent during the colonization of Africa. The essay will pay particular attention to both the French and British systems as a model upon which the rest of the colonial powers would build their expansive empires and would result in the near complete domination of the African continent and its people (Shillington, 2005:354)because, from the view of the subjects of the administration systems in Africa, the systems were all “remarkably similar in practise” (Shillington, 2005:354) and ultimately the end result for those subjected to colonial rule in the 19th century would be oppression