In the Wake of Colonialism

Scandinavian liner traffic between Europe and South Africa 1900–1940

Knut M. Nygaard

This thesis analyses the establishment of the Scandinavian liner trade on South Africa and how it evolved from the beginning of the 20th century until World War II. It focuses on three companies, Det Østasiatiske Kompagni (Denmark), Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic (Sweden) and Den Norske Afrika- og Australielinie (Norway).

The dissertation follows the development and growth of these three Scandinavian shipping companies in a setting where they continually had to deal with some of the world's most capitalized companies. The liner trade on South Africa was controlled by the South African Conference, a strong British-led organization comprised of leading and financially strong British and continental shipping companies which regulated all liner trade between Europe and south-eastern Africa. The existence and activities of the conference had a strong influence on trade in the region. This was an organization that the Scandinavian shipping companies did not try to bypass but instead they allied themselves with it and became a part of it.

Det Østasiatiske Kompagni’s liner trade on South Africa started after negotiations with the conference. An agreement was signed in 1903, and the line was launched under the name the Scandinavian South Africa Line. The agreement stipulated that the company should not load in the UK or on the continent. The start of Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic also came after direct negotiations with the South African Conference. Den Norske Afrika- og Australielinies entry into the conference was different. The company came in indirectly, having allied themselves with Det Østasiatiske Kompagni and Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic, both of which were already in the conference. In other words, when Den Norske Afrika- og Australielinie started liner trade on South Africa in 1911, it was the result of Scandinavian cooperation.

The Scandinavian transnational cooperation that the three shipping companies established in 1911 was of crucial importance in several ways. It made the shipping companies large enough to be able to regulate the Nordic market, and the close cooperation that developed helped the shipping companies to be taken into significant account by the South African Conference. The shipping companies operated as the conference's extended arm in the Nordic countries where they controlled and regulated the market.

The companies' relationship with the South Africa Conference and the transnational Scandinavian cooperation appear to be the most significant  factors relating to the initiation and development of the Scandinavian liner trade on South Africa. On the one hand, the activities of the conference  constituted a significant influence on the process and put strong constraints on the development of the trade. On the other hand, the transnational Scandinavian cooperation played a decisive role. The participants found common interests and acted together in relation to the conference and other actors. This gave them strength and an impact that they probably would not have achieved individually.

The aim of this thesis has been to contribute new knowledge to the study of maritime history in relation to Scandinavian and international liner shipping. It has been possible to obtain sources in four different countries, some of which were previously unknown and /or not used and which together have made it possible to tell this new story. The perspective and scope of this research have been international.


Ingebrigtsen og Nygaard Reefermarkedet, en analyse av tilbud og etterspørsel. Diplomoppgave Handels­høyskolen BI 1987

Nygaard, Knut Fra seilskip av tre til dampskip i linjefart Fred. Olsens rederivirksomhet, 1886 -1904. Hovedfagsoppgave Universitetet i Oslo 1999

Nygaard, Knut "DS Bayard - Fred. Olsens første dampskip" i Follominne - 2001, Drøbak 2000

Nygaard, Knut "Merking av tømmer, fløtingens sorteringsmåte" i Årringen-2001, Fetsund 2001

Nygaard, Knut "Fløting i Skiensvassdraget, konkurransedyktig selv i dag!" i Årringen-2002, Fetsund 2002

Jakobsen og Nygaard "Dampteknologiens tidsepoke" i Årringen-2003, Fetsund 2003

Nygaard, Knut Skogsektorens betydning nasjonalt og internasjonalt. Arbeidsnotat nr.1, Fetsund Lenser 2003

Nygaard, Knut "Fred. Olsen" i Norsk Biografisk Leksikon bind 7, Oslo 2003

Nygaard, Knut "Fra seilskip i trampfart til dampskip i linjefart, Fred. Olsens rederivirksomhet i forandringens tegn-1886-1904" i Sjøfartshistorisk årbok 2003, Bergen 2005

Nygaard, Knut Skipsfart på første klasse - særpreg og organisering av linjeskipsfarten. Paper presentert på PhD-seminar Solstrand, 20-21 juni 2006

Nygaard, Knut The Shipping Company Wilh. Wilhelmsen and the Norwegian Africa and Australia Line (NAAL) 1886-1940. Paper presented at the Ester Research Design Course Amsterdam, 9-11 October 2006

Nygaard, Knut The Norwegian Africa and Australia Line (NAAL), an outline of a company comes forward. Paper presented at the "In The Wake of Colonialism" international workshop Durban, 04-07 January 2007

Nygaard, Knut Co-operation between the Scandinavian Lines on South Africa 1900 – 1943: A key reason for survival? Paper presented at the 5th IMEHA International Congress of Maritime History, Greenwich, 23-27 June 2008

Nygaard, Knut Når historien utfordrer teorien: Linjekonferanser i skipsfarten i lys av teorier om oligopolistisk markedsmakt. Vitenskapsteoretisk innlegg, Universitetet i Bergen 2008

Nygaard, Knut "Norsk seilskipsfart på Sør-Afrika" i Kirsten Alsaker Kjerland & Knut M. Rio (Red.) KOLONITID Nordmenn på eventyr og big busines i Afrika og Stillehavet, Bergen 2009

Nygaard, Knut The Scandinavian Lines og SørAfrika konferansen Linjefart mellom Europa og Sør-Afrika 1900 – 1940. Ph.D. dissertation University of Bergen 2011.