Sola Rey

Empire – The New Scramble for Africa

The rivalry between Britain, France, Germany, and the other European powers accounts for a large part of the colonization.

While tropical Africa was not a large zone of investment, other overseas regions were. The vast interior between the gold and diamond-rich Southern Africa and Egypt had strategic value in securing the flow of overseas trade. Britain was under political pressure to secure lucrative markets against encroaching rivals in China and its eastern colonies, most notably India, Malaya, Australia and New Zealand. Thus, securing the key waterway between East and West – the Suez Canal – was crucial.

 The Scramble for African territory also reflected a concern for the acquisition of military and naval bases, for strategic purposes and the exercise of power. The growing navies, and new ships driven by steam power, required coaling stations and ports for maintenance. Defense bases were also needed for the protection of sea routes and communication lines, particularly of expensive and vital international waterways such as the Suez Canal.


Colonies were also seen as assets in “balance of power” negotiations, useful as items of exchange at times of international bargaining. Colonies with large native populations were also a source of military power; Britain and France used large numbers of British Indian and North African soldiers, respectively, in many of their colonial wars. In the age of nationalism there was pressure for a nation to acquire an empire as a status symbol; the idea of “greatness” became linked with the sense of “duty” that many European nations used to justify their imperialistic ambitions.

In the early 1880s, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza was exploring the Kingdom Of Kongo for France, at the same time Henry Morton Stanley explored it in on behalf of Léopold II of Belgium, who would have it as his personal Congo Free State (see section below). France occupied Tunisia in May 1881, which may have convinced Italy to join the German-Austrian Dual Alliance in 1882, thus forming the Triple Alliance. The same year, Britain occupied Egypt (hitherto an autonomous state owing nominal fealty to theOttoman Empire), which ruled over Sudan and parts of Chad, Eritrea, and Somalia. In 1884, Germany declared Togoland, the Cameroons and South West Africa to be under its protection; and France occupied Guinea. French West Africa (AOF) was founded in 1895, and French Equatorial Africa in 1910.


Read More:

Socio Economic Network: Africa Land Grab

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