This episode on the French Colonial Empire in Africa is part of our ongoing series in the History of Africa podcast series. This is the last episode on the period covering the era of the Great Scramble and the Berlin Conference, but there are lots more episodes in this podcast still to come.

French Colonial empire in Africa
The French invasion of Algiers in 1830 launched French colonialism in Africa.

The French Colonial Empire in Africa was divided into three main regions, the Maghreb in the north, the Sahel in the west, and finally French equatorial Africa in the center of the continent. The history books have been more subtle in their memory of French colonialism, but in this episode JB Shreve contends that the French presented more long-term destruction to the continent than many of their European counterparts.

French Colonial Empire in Africa
Port of Casablanca 1908

During the era of the French Colonial Empire in Africa, millions died from war, slaughter, famine, and disease, even while an ideological banner of “the mission to civilize” was paraded as France’s justification for colonizing Africa.

French Equatorial Africa
French Equatorial Africa. The old and the new – almost. The “wheelbarrow express” transports loads of diamond-bearing gravel to the washing mill at Camp Bole Moyenne alongside the new conveyor belt which is still under construction

Learn More:

The Legacy of French Colonialism in Africa

The Difference Between British and French Colonialism in Africa

French Colonial Africa

The Mission to Civilize – The French West African Confederation

Colonial Violence and Resistance in Chad

French Colonial Empire in Africa
French army mountain gunners during Kabylie expedition, Algeria. Created by Worms, published on L’Illustration, Journal Universel, Paris, 1860

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Find the other episodes of our History of Africa podcast series here.

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JB Shreve is the author of "How the World Ends: Understanding the Growing Chaos." He has been the host of the End of History podcast since 2012. He has degrees in International Relations and Middle East Studies. His other books include the Intelligence Brief Series. Regular posts and updates from JB Shreve are available at