Home HISTORY What were the Causes and Agreements of Berlin Conference

What were the Causes and Agreements of Berlin Conference

the Causes and Agreements of Berlin Conference

What were the Causes and Agreements of Berlin Conference

Berlin conference refers to the international capitalist conference which was held in Berlin, the capital city of Germany from November 1884 to February 1885 under the Germany chancellor  Otto  Von  Bismarck  who  was  the  conference  chairman.

The  main  objective  of  this  conference  was  to  divide  the  African  continent  peacefully  among  the  scrambling European  powers  so  as  to  avoid  the  outbreak  of  wars/ fighting

European nations which participated in the Berlin conference were 27 nations including: Belgium, Britain, Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, German etc. Denmark and USA attended in the conference  as  observers  who  were  to  observe  all  activities  of  the  conference.


There were several  reasons  as  to  why  Germany  under  Otto  Von  Bismarck  managed  to  hold  the  conference  of  all  capitalist  nations  and  not any  other  nations  like  Britain, France  etc.

Germany was able to summon the international conference due to the following: 

Military power.

During the  last  quarter of  19th  c Germany  dominated  Europe  in  terms  of  military  Germany  was  powerful  militarily  therefore  other  European  nations  feared  her. Failure to attend the conference could end up into military punishment.

Economic strength.

German was very powerful economically compared to other European nations by the last quarter of the 19th This also influenced Germany to hold the conference.

The influence of Bismarck.

Bismarck was a very influential factor for Germany to hold the Berlin Conference. He was very diplomatic and propagandist and therefore the conference in Berlin became inevitable.

Enmity between other nations.

This gave Germany an opportunity to summon the conference

Participation in scramble.

Germany did not fully participate in the scramble for Africa and therefore was seen by other nations as the only solution for the division of Africa.



The Berlin conference was hold due to a number of reasons. Some of the reasons for the holding the conference was as follows:

To discuss the nature of the scramble for Africa so as to avoid conflicts of European over the African territories.

To divide Africa. The conference was summoned in order to discuss on how to divide the continent of Africa into colonies among scrambling European nations.

To solve and avoid conflicts. The conference also aimed at solving the ongoing conflicts between scrambling European nations in Africa and also avoid other conflicts which were likely to occur (To settle European conflicts which occurred before arranging the meeting).

To set up boundaries in Africa. The conference also aimed at setting up boundaries in African colonies so as to avoid interference among European colonial powers.

To lay down principles. The Berlin Conference was also aimed at laying down principles which were to be adhered in the division and colonization of Africa (To settle rules and principles on how Africa should be divided up among the European nations)

To solve the problem of industrialization. The conference was aimed at solving the problem of industrialization in Europe such as shortage of raw materials, markets etc. This was to be done through dividing the continent of Africa into colonies for the industrialized nations in Europe.


The Berlin conference in order to divide and colonize Africa, laid down some principles to be adhered by all colonial powers. These were: –

Abolition of slave trade and slavery in Africa – Every nation after being given an area (colony) in Africa was told to abolish slave trade and slavery activities in their respective colonies.

Principle of notification it was agreed that that any European nation intending to have a colony in Africa must inform other nations through provision of treaties signed by African rulers.

Peaceful setting of disputes – Any conflict that occurred between European nations was to be settled peacefully between the conflicting nations.

King Leopold II to colonize Congo – Congo was given to King Leopold II as the conference recognized her influences.

Principle of effective occupation or control – European power which claims to any part of Africa would be recognized by the other powers if it was effectively occupied by such European power lie under this clause. The claimants were supposed to develop the areas through their missionaries trading companies’ explorers starting plantations and other economic activities.

Freedom of navigation – the conference declared that Congo, the Niger River and other big rivers as free zones for international navigation i.e. Niger River under the authority of Great Britain and Congo River under the authority of Belgium. This means that the area was not supposed to be under control of one particular nation.

Mutual agreement in drawing boundaries – There should be mutual agreement between two nations in drawing of boundaries.it was agreed to fix boundaries i.e. to divide up the African continent so as to create separate colonies where each European nation would be legally responsible to establish colonial rule.

Free operation of missionary activities – Missionaries were to operate free in every colony without any restrictions.

Fixing of boundaries – it was agreed to fix boundaries so as to create colonies where each Europeans nation will be legally responsible to establish colonial rule.


It resolved the international rivalries that involved in areas like Congo, Egypt and Nile.

It speeded the partition of Africa under the principle of effective occupation.

The Conference highligtened the unity and degree of cooperation among European powers.

The Conference opened the interior of African land for colonization.

It avoided the possibility of the emperior powers to inter into war during the scramble for Africa.

It led to the setting of colonial boundaries in African Continent


Berlin conference had a lot of impacts to African continent. Some of these impacts were as follows: –

It intensified scramble for Africa. This later on led to misunderstanding between European nations, something which led to the emergence First World War.

It laid down rules and principles for colonizing Africa. Therefore it legalized the colonization of Africa.

It resolved hostilities among Europeans nations. E.g. Britain and France in Egypt

It led to the drawing of African map and making of boundaries. This led to division of Africans e.g. Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania.

It led to division of Africa .Africa  was  divided  into   colonies  among  European  nations

It led to influx of Europeans in  Africa  who  most  of  them  were  colonial  officials  and  settlers  who  together  came  to  colonize

It led to total colonization of Africa (Loose of African control by themselves).


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