The Reasons Europeans Colonised Africa

The Reasons Europeans Colonised Africa

The Scramble for Africa

The Scramble for Africa reveals the reasons why Europeans colonised Africa.

The scramble for Africa was motivated by the desire for Europeans to colonise Africa for various economic, political, and religious reasons.

The Economic Reasons Africa Was Colonised

There were several economic reasons for the colonization of Africa by European powers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

One reason was the desire to control trade routes and access raw materials, such as gold, rubber, and oil, which were abundant in Africa. Colonizing powers also wanted to establish colonies as markets for their own manufactured goods, and to secure sources of cheap labour.

In addition, the competition for colonies was driven by the belief that imperial expansion would bring wealth and prestige to the colonizing nation.

Finally, the Industrial Revolution in Europe had created a demand for new markets and sources of raw materials to fuel industrial growth, and Africa was seen as a potential source of these resources.

Political Reasons African Was Colonised: The Berlin Conference

The Berlin Conference suggests that Europeans colonised Africa for Political reasons in order to maintain the Balance of Power in Europe by ensuring that the riches from African colonisation would be divided fairly amongst the European Powers in such a manner that would not disrupt the Balance of Power in Europe.

The Berlin conference was a meeting of European nations in 1884 to discuss how to divide Africa among themselves. The conference was convened at the request of Portugal, which wanted to stop other European countries from encroaching on its colony of Angola.

Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of Germany chaired the Berlin Conference, and its participants included the major European powers of the day: Britain, France, Italy, Portugal, Russia, and Spain.

The conference resulted in the carving up of Africa into numerous colonies, with little regard for the continent’s existing peoples and cultures. The conference also established rules for future European colonisation efforts in Africa. 

Social Reasons Africa Was Colonised

Christianity was a major factor in motivating Europeans to colonise Africa. European missionaries had been active in Africa since the early 1800s, and they saw it as their duty to spread Christianity to as many people as possible. They also believed that by Christianising African societies, they would make them more civilised and therefore easier to govern.

Some Europeans also believed that colonising Africa would be a good way to combat the spread of Islam. They were afraid that if African societies became Islamic, they would become hostile to European interests. Others saw colonisation as a way to gain access to Africa’s natural resources, which were very valuable at the time. And finally, some Europeans simply wanted to adventure and explore new lands.

Whatever their reasons, the Europeans who colonised Africa did so with little regard for the Africans themselves. They imposed their own systems of government and justice on African societies, often without any understanding of or respect for local customs. This led to much conflict and suffering for the Africans who were now under European rule.

Social Darwinism

Europeans also colonised Africa because in the late 19th century, many Europeans believed in the theory of social Darwinism.

This theory stated that some groups of people were naturally superior to others and that it was survival of the fittest. Europeans used this theory to justify their colonisation of Africa. They believed that they were civilising Africa and helping them to evolve into a better society. 


The scramble for Africa was motivated by the desire for Europeans to colonise Africa for various economic, political, and religious reasons such as the need to acquire new raw materials and markets in Africa, Social Darwinism and the need to maintain the European Balance of Power.

Although colonialism brought improved infrastructure, modern medicine and technology to Africa these benefits still demonstrated that Europeans colonised Africa primarily to extract its resources since these improvements were largely meant to bolster the strength of the exploitative Colonial Economy rather than to improve the welfare of Africans.