Rapports Commerciales du Cercle de Ségou
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
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Prices of imported items:
|guniée cloth||20 francs/piece|
Rice was not listed as an import or export item. The Cercle de Ségou did import rum, absinthe and cognac. Export items included millet, salt, dried fish, cowries, cloth, kolas and some animals. Silver, cowries and kola were the only items exported towards Bamako, Kita and Kayes.
Dried fish was exported to Kayes.
Ségou was not a cercle populated with large numbers of merchants. Some people took small stocks of merchandise during the dry season and traveled to villages, but all made sure to return in time for the rainy season so they could plant because, in the words of the author "ils sonts avant tout cultivateurs" (they are above all farmers).
The Société Commerciale established itself in Ségou in 1902 and was very successful at selling to Africans. The Société Niger-Soudan opened a new comptoir staffed by an African. Most of the European imports to the cercle were brought in from Kayes by the Société Commerciale and from Bamako by Maurer and the Société Niger-Soudan. European imports consisted mainly of blue guinée cloth, beads and European food. Most of the exports to Bamako and Kayes were some sort of textiles.
Two or three Moor caravans brought salt. Salt, cattle and sheep sold in Côte d'Ivoire, while horses sold in Sikasso. Salt sold for as much as 120-150 francs/barre in Côte d'Ivoire. Ségou cotton cloth sold everywhere and was favored by Africans.
Compared to the second quarter of 1902, the number of patentes de circulation was way down, but the number of droites de place at the markets were up slightly. Possibly merchants were changing their habits and becoming more sedentary.
This report is similar to the report for the second quarter of 1903, but it mentions exports of rubber and wax. During their inspection tours, French officials encouraged local chiefs to get their people to bring wax to the Ségou market.
The salt trade routes shifted a bit as merchants in Bamako, Nyamina and Sikasso began to handle salt caravans that used to come to Ségou.
Trade revived following the rainy season, but was below the level of the fourth quarter of 1902 because of the lack of initiative on the part of European merchants.
European merchants complained because they were waiting for the delivery of European trade goods, but didn't have enough capital to order directly from France. They also preferred to import their goods via ox caravans instead of "les moyens de transport rapide dans la colonie" (the high-speed transport methods available in the colony; ie. railroad and steamship). As a result, they had nothing worth buying, so small African traders avoided the Ségou market. All of their trade consisted of local African items.
A small amount of marine salt was sold in Cercle de Ségou during the dry season, but during the rainy season, Africans preferred desert salt because it stored better, even though it cost more. Salt imports included 570 kilograms of marine salt and 403 barres of desert salt (at 30 francs/barre = 1 franc/kilogram). Marka traders brought 23 tons of rice from Macina to sell in Ségou, Nyamina and Koulikoro.
Trade was slow because the only comptoir in Ségou (Société Commerciale) had little stock and preferred to sell it slowly at high prices to cover their costs. As a result, African merchants bought their goods in Bamako, Kayes or Senegal.
European merchants didn't have much faith in local trade or their African representatives. They closed 3 or 4 experimental shops during the quarter and the Société Commerciale only delivered one fourth of the goods ordered by their representative.
This report is the first to mention the Chemin de Fer Kayes- Niger. The Société Commerciale was joined by Maurel et Prom and Duteil de la Rochère. They brought sufficient stocks of European goods. However, most Dioula traders went to Bamako for supplies once the railroad was open. Markas and Somonos lost their monopoly on the import- export trade because many people of all different races began to make dry season trips. Typically, small African merchants traveled to Côte d'Ivoire to sell animals for kolas.
Exports were up since the previous year while imports remained about the same. Desert salt sold for 30 francs/barre, sea salt in sacks sold for 0.30 francs/kilogram, kola sold for 100/1000 and guniée cloth sold for 10 francs/piece.