Macroeconomic data on 45 countries are combined with microeconomic data on 4 case-study countries to reveal significant differences in the levels of education attained under the different colonial powers in Africa during the colonial period. In 1960, former British colonies exhibited higher educational performance. These differences are robust to the control of some pre-colonial factors and have persisted over time until 1990. However, the education differential did not give rise to either income per capita or life expectancy differentials. Urbanisation occurred at a faster rate in the former French colonies. Microeconomic data for the case-study countries show indeed that private returns to education tend to be lower in the former British colonies.