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In 1884, The Berlin Conference decided that free trade and travel could occur on the Niger and Congo Rivers, thus, making it easier for European powers to take over parts of Africa. A “scramble for Africa” occurred when Europeans started to compete for African colonies. Once Europe took control of Africa, Imperialism had a major effect on this newly obtained continent. Colonization brought many benefits as well as hardships to the continent. Political, economic, cultural, and technological influences of expansion were on both Europeans and non-Europeans during this time.


There were many effects of colonization; some were positive and others were negative. Charitable efforts improved sanitation, education and health, which increase the life expectancy and literacy rate. Another positive effect was that new European rulers established strong control over the people, which reduced the problems among them. Africa also gained many railroads, dams, and telephones, which they needed to transport goods as a market. The African goods became very valuable since the Europeans were very “popular.” Although there were many positive effects, there were also several negative effects of imperialism on Africa. One of the major damaging effects is that Africa lost its independence and the rulers were replaced with European rulers. Lastly, the Europeans brought many new diseases to Africa, killing and infecting many.


Political, and economic factors influenced expansion on Europeans and non-Europeans. After taking control of Africa, Europeans took control of the African government. Ruling an empire was viewed as a measure of a nation’s greatness. The most common type of rule was direct rule, where ruling a country would replace African officials with European rulers. The British used indirect rule where native officials would handle day to-day tasks. During this time, economic competition began while industrial nations competed for Africa’s raw materials and markets for manufactured goods. The French negotiated treaties with several African leaders from a powerful military position. France focused on the military direction of the expansion by going fort-to-fort and taking over control. By using military means of obtaining territory, they were securing themselves economically. A major economic advantage to the French was using forced labor and imprisonment of Africans to expand their interests (slave trade). Control over the Suez Canal allowed the British to transport goods quickly and cheaply. This was a major advantage of expansion into Africa. The African people were also taxed, giving the Europeans more money for their economy. Lastly, Europeans wanted control over the soil, which contained gold and diamonds (the Mineral Revolution).


Other factors that influenced expansion on Europeans and non-Europeans were cultural and technological effects. When the British came to Africa they Christianized and civilized the savage cultures. This was part of the “White Man’s burden”. The British felt it was their duty to bring the Christian religion to these people. They sent missionaries to baptize the Africans and organized churches and appointed leaders of these churches. Several technological influences of expansion included the buildings of roads and railroads. They built schools, hospitals, and libraries. They introduced the telephone to these people. They developed mines, which made towns grow quickly and become large urban societies. All of these factors were great influences of expansion on both Europeans and non-Europeans.


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In conclusion, effects of imperialism on Africa had both benefits and hardships on the continent. Colonization changed the lives of both the Europeans as well as the non-Europeans. Political, economic, cultural, and technological factors influenced expansion on both the Europeans and the Africans. Imperialism affected the African continent that would change the lives of millions for years to come.





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