A map of colonial Africa

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes:Scramble and Partition of Africa:Economic Factors that led to the Scramble and Partition for Africa

  • New industrialists needed raw materials for their industries which were readily available in Africa
  • The raw materials included rubber, timber, gold, cotton among others
  • The discovery of diamonds at Kimberly in Southern Africa led to many European powers rushing to Africa to sign treaties with local chiefs
  • There was a great depression in Europe and Africa seemed to provide a way out of the depression
  • The need for new markets for goods produced in industries also led to the scramble for Africa
  • Most European countries followed Britain in industrialization and began imposing high duties on imports which prevented most countries from exporting their goods across Africa
  • Africa remained the only option for exporting as its markets could be controlled by mother countries
  • Industrialists earned huge profits from their factories and mines, so there was need to invest their profits and Africa provided the investment base
  •  Investments in Africa was more profitable that in Europe especially in the Kimberly diamond mines which was double or even treble sometimes
  • Population increased in industrialized countries and surplus populations were settled in Africa
  • Industrialization resulted in invention of new technology which enabled industrialized countries to conquer more lands,  for example, the steam ship made movement of Europeans to Africa easier
  • Merchants, traders, explorers and missionaries who were already living in Africa like Robert Moffat persuaded local chiefs who trusted them to sign treaties to sell their states
  • Cheap and strong labour was also readily available in Africa to further the activities of the colonial masters

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.