The industrialization in Europe marked a new age in the industrial world during the end of the 19th century. Industrialization means using machines in the production process to replace the human labor. Here, machines are put into use reducing the human factor that is only applied to operate the machines. In Europe, the industrial age started towards the end of the 19th century marking the time of significant reducing of the human labor in the production activities. Many countries in Europe sparked this age by new inventions. The application of new technologies in Europe also came at a time when the colonization Africa was at its height. Colonization means the act of taking control of one country by another with the aim of ruling it. Countries like Germany, Britain, Spain, Portugal and many more were working towards the acquisition of territories in Africa and elsewhere for several reasons. This paper will discuss how industrialization in Europe is related to acquisition of lands and colonization of Africa by the European nations.
The industrial revolution in Europe saw a great increase in production activities. Invention of machines demanded the production processes be faster and more efficient. The requirements of different industries were rising, thus the alternative sources of raw materials had to be established.
Considering that many nations in Europe were at the same stage of the industrial revolution, none of them could assist the other in the supplying of industrial raw materials. For this reason, Africa became a target for many of them. Thus, countries like Portugal, Spain, Germany, Britain, and Austria among others worked tirelessly to acquire African territories as a source of raw materials for their industries. For instance, Germany’s colony, Tanzania in East Africa was a good source of diamonds and cotton. The British South Africa supplied gold and copper to Britain. Uganda copper mines were a good source of copper for British industries. The Mwene Mutapa Empire in West Africa provided ivory, skins and hides for British industries. Kenya was grabbed by Britain, as well. The bigger the territories owned the more raw materials could be acquired. For instance, controlling many territories in Africa, Great Britain could receive the highest number of raw material sources. The country’s, clothes, metal, food and leather industries got more supplies.
The European countries struggled to acquire colonies since the economic benefits offered by these territories were numerous. The driving force of the colonialists was to reap as much as they could. At that time, Africans did not know the importance of such resources. They allowed the European nations to export timber, coffee, tea, metals and other goods from their continent. Consequently, these nations became very rich due to the black continent inhabited by primitive people who did not know how to fight for their rights. However, even those who tried to resist, like the Nandi people in Kenya, faced severe responses. The whites used any tactic including the “divide-and-rule” to conquer and establish power upon the Africans.
Another interrelation of colonization in Africa and industrialization in Europe is seen in the fact that the European nations produced so many goods that they had to look for markets outside Europe. For instance, guns and clothes produced in Britain had to be sold. Most of the countries in Europe had enough products from their own industries. Therefore, the colonizers strived to acquire new territories where they could sell these goods. Guns were in high demand in Africa, where many tribes were raiding each other for cattle and the much needed land for grazing. Africans did not know the technology of cloth making. They had to get these supplies from Europe. The Africans needed plates, spoons, mirrors, bicycles, iron sheets for building, as well as furniture, which were supplied by the colonizers such as Great Britain and Germany. In addition, Germany also needed a market to sell cars. Industrialization in Europe meant higher incomes for these nations. Fast and efficient production in Europe brought about increased profits that could not be kept idle. For instance, British trade and manufacturing saw the country acquire high profits and, therefore, went ahead to invest in Africa. The Kilembe mines in Uganda were a British investment. Britain got copper from Uganda. The mined copper ore was exported to Britain for further processing. Germany also invested in diamond mining in Tanzania. The diamonds were then taken to Germany for processing. In addition, British invested in gold mining in Johannesburg, South Africa. In Kenya, tea plantations that exist up to date were a British investment. The coffee and tea from Kenya were considered of the best quality in the world market. It was also taken to Britain, processed and sold to other markets around the world.
In the era of the industrial revolution, financial services became part of life. There was a need to finance production activities, which was especially lucrative if done outside Europe. Africa was the perfect place for such business. Britain and France particularly made invisible exports of finances. The developing, as well as African open markets saw France and Britain receive profits. The desire to conduct the invisible exports was also the basis for colonial administration.
The colonial administration of the African continent presupposed frequent travels by sea to transport troops to fight the resisting tribes. There was also a trade aspect with Africa thus creating the need to have harbors on African coasts. Most European powers such as Portugal, France, Britain and Germany wanted to establish harbors where the steam ships could be coaled and stop on their way to different destinations. Also, there was a need to control strategic water ways such as the Suez Canal so that rival nations could not use these routes for their benefits.
In conclusion, there was a direct relationship between the revolution of industries in Europe and the scramble for colonies in Africa. The European nations needed the strategic locations to acquire raw materials, sale their manufactured goods, as well as invest surplus profits in order to gain more profits. Those powers that were able to gain larger territories were in a better position to make better returns compared to others. By the time the African continent got enlightened, there was much already taken out of it. Minerals had been exploited, land had been used, and many items manufactured in Europe were already in Africa. In brief, the industrialization was a major propellant for the European nations to colonize Africa.