The use of African slave labour was not new. The Spanish and Portuguese had been using African slaves since the 16th century. However, the Atlantic slave trade of the 18th century was a new kind of slavery and was on a scale much greater than ever before.
It has been estimated that over 12 million Africans were forcibly removed from Africa and transported across the Atlantic to the Caribbean islands and the American continent. The size of the Atlantic slave trade dramatically transformed African societies.
The slave trade brought about a negative impact on African societies and led to the long-term impoverishment of West Africa. This intensified effects that were already present amongst its rulers, kinships, kingdoms and in society.