Three Main Reasons for Colonization in Africa

The three main reasons for colonization in Africa will be highlighted in this content, but first let us check out the meaning of colonization. Colonization is a process of establishing foreign control over target territories or peoples for the purpose of cultivation, often by establishing colonies and possibly by settling them.

It is in this case structured and enforced by the settlers directly, while their, or their ancestors’ metropolitan country maintains linkage or control through the settler’s colonialism.

Colonialism is not a modern phenomenon. World history is full of examples of one society gradually expanding by incorporating adjacent territory and settling its people on newly conquered territory. In the sixteenth century, colonialism

changed decisively because of technological developments in navigation that began to connect more remote parts of the world. The modern European colonial project emerged when it became possible to move large numbers of people across the ocean and to maintain political control in spite of geographical dispersion.

This entry uses the term colonialism to describe the process of European settlement, violent dispossession and political domination over the rest of the world, including the Americas, Australia, and parts of Africa and Asia.

The difficulty of defining colonialism stems from the fact that the term is often used as a synonym for imperialism. Both colonialism and imperialism were forms of conquest that were expected to benefit Europe economically and strategically.

Settler colonialization either rules as a minority group through oppression and assimilation the indigenous peoples, or by establishing them self as the demographic majority through driving away, disadvantaging or outright killing the indigenous people, as well as through immigration and births of metropolitan as well as other settlers.

Three Main Reasons for Colonization in Africa

Africa bore the brunt of colonization. In the whole of Africa, the only countries that did not experience colonization are Ethiopia, and Liberia. It is thought that their location, economic viability and unity helped them avoid the plague of colonization. They were lucky, but the other countries in Africa were not so lucky as colonialism did Africa a lot of harm.

According to what is popularly believed to be some of the three main reasons for colonization in Africa, we have garnered the ones that could be major and principal in terms of why Africa is today identified by its modern political nature to be one big divided colony or slave to the different colonial masters, namely: Britain, France, and Portugal.

Trade Routes and Industrialization

Europeans first became interested in Africa for trade route purposes. They were looking for ways to avoid the taxes of the
Arab and Ottoman empires in Southwest Asia. Sailing around Africa was the obvious choice, but it was a long voyage and could not be completed without “pit stops” along the way.

Europeans created ports in southern and eastern Africa so traders could restock supplies before crossing the Indian Ocean. The end of the 19th century is called the “Age of Imperialism”, which refers to European countries competing for land and power. Imperialism is a system were a strong country takes wealth and raw materials from another country.

Industrialization, as one of the three main reasons for colonization, is the process of transforming a once agricultural economy to one based on manufacturing of products. In Europe back then, there were in existence certain difficulties which posed a threat to the economy of Europe.

Take for example, there was in existence a high level of poverty, unemployment and it took a great toll on Europe thus the urgent need to outsource for solutions. This is where Africa came to play.

Africa already was like a treasure waiting to be discovered. It had natural resources that the indigenes of Africa did not even know of. Europe used this to their advantage and ensured they took as much as they could and exploited Africa for as long as they could.

This led to the berlin conference where major western powers of the world then, came together to decide and negotiate on how to divide Africa to their benefit.

Read Also: How British Empire Ruled Territories in Africa 

Slave Trade/Cheap Labor

A “strong” country was supposed to have many colonies to increase its wealth and importance around the world. So another one of the three main reasons for colonization in Africa is slave trade and getting cheap labor.

During the 16th century, Portuguese explorers became engaged in the African slave trade. They kidnapped Africans and forced them to work on plantations and mines in their colonies in the New World.

Other European countries soon participated in the slave trade as well. The trans-Atlantic slave trade lasted from the 1500s to the mid-1800s. Even after the slave trade had ended, European interest in Africa was still going strong. European countries saw that Africa was a continent full of vast natural resources and mineral wealth.

Africans provided them cheap labor. They spent little to no expenses on labor. Due to indirect rule, they were able to enter into an agreement with the warrant chiefs and the kings in Africa to give up their strong able bodied people in exchange for gifts like mirror, plates, spoons and other intangible things that seemed to be a big deal then.


Europe during this period wasn’t so lucky with natural resources. If anything, the economy then was nothing to write home about. They seemed to be a boom in the rate of unemployment, poverty that many of them agreed with the idea of migrating and searching for greener pastures. Africa only became a great fit.

It had so many natural resources, and the good part was that the then African were unaware of the fact they were sitting upon gold.

It became imperative that they went to Africa, get the people to welcome them, entice them with gifts and ensure they take enough to serve them and keep taking till they can take no more.

Africans were considered another species of animals. They were seen as savages and addressed as such. There was inbuilt in them a sense of superiority and this further fueled their quest to colonize Africa and get more power.

They taught the then Africans that their colonization was their own way of bringing civilization to Africa, introduced new system of governance, religion, way of life, and gradually, the average African began to see his culture as inferior to the one introduced to them.

Other Reason is:


The Biblical Verse “Go ye into the world and preach the gospel” was one major factor pushing the whites to colonialize Africa. They needed the gospel of Christianity to reach Africa so missionaries were sent to Africa with bibles.

They taught the then African to read and write, and ensured they understood the bible, thus converting them to Christianity. These missionaries were protected by the European government. Thus, we have several missionaries.

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