The West African trading happened in about 300 CE
Expansion of the Trade Routes
The West African trade route expanded throughout Africa and to empires of the Songhai, Ghana, the Mediterranean, and the Mali. Not only did the trade routes just go to empires but it went through small towns, cities, etc and some of these places are in some places in modern day like Niger, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, and Burkina Faso, and they did this because those small places may have certain items that can only be found in their towns. Some give away people that had talents to make items to trade and make a living.
Why the routes go where they go
The trade routes went their ways to get somewhere faster like going around mountains to not have to take longer. For example you need to get to point A to point B but on the way there is high mountain and super heated deserts that is what trading that time would have been like or them.
Geography affected the Cultural Diffusion by the forests and river lands. The different places the trade routes went through could of had small cities/towns that had different more valuable items to trade. The area they traveled on provided more items as well since they could have stopped to scavenge and mine more useful items to trade.
What they traded
In every different trade route they traded different items called Commodities. These valuable items were traded in all of Africa and gave the traders a living of trading. Some were just items that could be used like everyday items like the jade tool below and some were even people and animals to work for their owners.
Examples of traded Commodites: Jade tools, Gold, Salt, Gold, Agricultural products, Text Tiles, and even slaves. But even though the Commodites were very valuable, some of them were running out or very hard to find like for instance Salt. Salt was used to flavor food and other uses but the salt slabs what they were had to be hacked out of the ground and grounded out of them and it needed more people and effort because of its value.
Salt may be easy to obtain now but back then getting something like this was very difficult to obtain and my life.
Supply and Demand
While trading the merchants had to deal with supply and demand. The supply determined if there was to much of something the price would be small and easier to afford and if the was less of it the price would rise and become harder to afford. The demand had to determine if the buyer wanted to pay the price of the item like weather it was high or low. Bartering is something they did most of the time they traded. When they bartered they exchange goods and services like how they could trade jade and gold for or services they just exchanged slaves to work for someone else
Travelers and Emperor
The people who traded or traveled along these trade routes weren't just standard merchants, some of them were emperors. The emperor of Mali, Mansa Musa had traveled through the trade routes to trade and even give away his own gold. He gave away so many gold that in many places it caused a drop in the Market economy, and also his people became angry towards him but even the people outside his empire and even caused gold to be some what useless.
Throughout the trading routes there were some things that slowed them down like how the Himalayas mountains blocked trading in the silk road. The Sahara desert was hot in temperature and was inhabited by hostile tribes that halted trade in most of the areas around African trade routes.
As the travelers traded their goods they also spread something called cultural diffusion. When the travelers traded their goods like food or spices it started the culture of the item sold like how salt was traded to many different places and then it was wanted in those places even more until it can become something sold everywhere.