Main Factors Leading to European Colonization of Africa

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Main Factors Leading to European Colonization of Africa

Towards the end of the 19th century, around 1870s and 1900, Africa was faced with imperial aggression, military invasions, diplomatic pressure and finally, a conquest by the European nations (Iweriebor 2013). Although many of the African communities put up some form of resistance, it was not enough against the sophisticated weapons and forces of the European nations. In the early twentieth century, almost all of African countries were under European colonization. The cause of the colonization was not understood by the natives. Although several factors led to the colonization and partitioning of Africa, two main factors that stood out, economic interests and political and power issues (Iweriebor 2013).

Towards the end of the 19th century, European profits from the slave trade had already been lost after its abolition. Additionally, the European capitalist industrial revolution had grown and had no more chances of growing. Much of its manufactured products were not going beyond the retail shelves, which forced the Europeans to seek means of expanding the markets for their goods. With such factors starting to ruin the economic status of the European powers, many sought to look elsewhere. Africa was one of the places to look. Additionally, to maintain the industrial revolution, there was need for raw materials as well as ready market (Iweriebor 2013). The industrial revolution in Europe was running out of major raw materials and saw an opportunity in Africa since it was unexplored at the time, unlike other continents and regions. This made it favorable for the Europeans since they knew Africa would provide a good source of raw materials (Makong’o et al 5). This was the primary motivation of Europeans in colonizing Africa. However, this fact was subject to debate considering running a colony was expensive.

Some scholars reckon that Europeans could have conquered Africa long ago except that some of the tropical diseases such as malaria and yellow fever proved to be quit fatal. However, the discoveries of newer treatment and vaccines such as quinine changed this scenario, hence granting the Europeans a chance to get deeper into Africa. Missionaries had played a part since they asked for support from governments in bringing in education as well as spreading Christianity. When some of the countries like Portugal entered Malawi and established governments, it created worries to the other European countries.

This prompted Britain to establish colonies within Africa while other European countries did the same. This was for power reasons, where none of the European countries wanted to be considered weaker. Acquiring more territories was a sign of power for the country. Further, the country would be in a position to control the trade there, thus enhancing their economic status. For instance, Britain was heavily reliant on free trade at the time for its economic status. Thus, if other countries dominated foreign markets it would mean an economic decline of Britain. Therefore, in order to protect such interests, European countries sought to expand their territories as a sign of their power (Nketiah 136). Some scholars further reckon that economic activities came as a need to maintain the colonies since it involved costs. Thus, by pursuing economic activities the countries would be able to maintain their colonies as well as profit from them to support some of their operations back at home.

Therefore, the main factors contributing to European colonization of Africa is political power and economic status. Each of the European countries, Portugal, France, Spain, England and Italy amongst others wanted to maintain their economic status as well as continue to expand (Makong’o et al 6). Each of the countries considered the other a threat, thereby eliciting a lot of worries when one seemed to be a step further. Thus, economic growth and might was considered to represent power, which made these two factors the major motivation of colonizing Africa.


Works Cited

Iweriebor E. G. Ehiedu. The Colonization of Africa., 2011. Web. April 29, 2013.

Makong’o J. et al. History and Government Form 2. East Africa: East African Publishers, n.d. Print.

Nketiah Eric Sakyi. Distance Forum: A Multidisciplinary Book of Scholarly Articles, Volume 1. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011. Print.



Expert paper writers are just a few clicks away

Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.

Calculate the price of your order

You will get a personal manager and a discount.
We'll send you the first draft for approval by at
Total price: