Industrialization brought a seemingly endless need for raw goods. While Britain was the first nation to industrialize, France and Germany would both emergence as industrial powers in the nineteenth century and bring with them their own demands for raw materials to feed production in their factories. Britain had long established colonies in many parts of the world and this ensured a steady supply of raw goods into its factories. Germany and France, who had smaller empires and less control over what colonies the did have, needed places where they could reliably extract raw materials to maintain their industrial development.
Sub-Saharan Africa was one of the few regions of the world that had not been formally incorporated into a European empire by the nineteenth century. A combination of geography, distance, and disease had long prevented Europeans from colonizing beyond the coast of Africa. This changed with the invention of steam power and the railroad. Europeans now had the means to establish travel through even the most challenging terrain, and in the late 19th century, a scramble for unclaimed parts of Africa began.
The "Scramble for Africa" was formalized after the Berlin Conference in 1884, at which European powers led by the three big industrial empires--Britain, Germany, and France-divided the continent up to ensure Europeans would not war with one another over the creation of these new colonies. Throughout the remainder of the century, formal colonial governments were established that would last until the middle of the twentieth century when anti-colonial nationalist movements brought an end to European rule in Africa.