What was the historical significance of the "Scramble for Africa?"

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are at least two reasons why the scramble for Africa is historically significant.

First, the competition for colonies in Africa can be cited as a cause of WWI.  The various European countries were competing for colonies and for power.  They felt that having African colonies helped them economically (which brings military power with it) and that it helped to give them international prestige.  Because of this, they all wanted more colonies.  Germany, for example, tried to gain influence over French colonies in Africa.  These sorts of actions made countries like France and England nervous and helped lead to the war.

Second, the Scramble for Africa can be blamed for many of Africa's problems today.  Essentially all of Africa was colonized.  The colonizing powers set up economic systems that were meant to help the colonizers, not the Africans.  They did not do much to educate the colonized people or get them ready for independence.  They put different ethnic groups together in single colonies.  All of these things caused major problems when African countries became independent in the 1960s and 1970s.  The colonial systems made it so that the African countries had poor economies and chaotic governmental systems.  Thus, you can argue that the Scramble for Africa helped made African countries some of the poorest in the world today.


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