Development of more sophisticated weaponry also acted as a spur. By the 1880s European nations were undertaking what was called a scramble to 'land grab' what they could across Africa without planning nor, of course, seeking any consent from those already on the land. In November 1984 Bismarck convened a conference in Berlin and invited fourteen states, including the USA, but not a single African one, to divide up the African continent and establish an agreed set of rules for the future exploitation of the continent.
The Berlin Conference came to be called the 'Scramble for Africa', for that described exactly what happened, and the colonial rule of Africa went largely unchanged following the conference until the end of WW1 when former German colonies were placed under the protection of the League of Nations and became Mandate territories. It wasn't until the 1950s, with Europe severely weakened and bankrupted by WWII, that stirrings of independence within Africa really took on a serious form.
The maps and charts below shows European activity in Africa in 1850 compared with after the Conference of Berlin in 1885.
Partition of Africa: Berlin Conference
Partition of Africa: Colonial Map of Africa
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