The main causes of the scramble and partition of East Africa were Economic, Social, Humanitarian, Prestigious, Strategic, and political as follows:
The Europeans wanted to spread their western civilization and this was the western culture. This included the way of dressing, religion, education and administration since Africa was previously referred to as ‘The Dark Continent’.
They wanted to spread Christianity in East Africa so as to check on the spread of Islam by Arabs.
By the end of the 19th century there was an industrial revolution in Europe and therefore the Europeans were looking for raw-materials to feed their industries e.g. Cotton, coffee, Minerals like Gold, Copper, Diamond, Tin etc and animal products like ivory, hides and Skins.
The Europeans also wanted to obtain market for their manufactured goods like clothes, Guns, Beads, Glass Ware etc.
They wanted to invest their surplus capital in East Africa for high profits. They invested their capital in mining and farming.
The Europeans were overpopulated and therefore wanted to get new areas in East Africa where they could resettle their surplus population.
They were also interested in East Africa to get territories for prestigious purposes because the more territories a European power had, the more it would be considered powerful e.g. France.
Unemployment in Europe prompted the scramble and partition of East Africa. Machines replaced human labour thus creating unemployment. There was a need to acquire colonies where their people could be employed.
The rise of nationalism in Europe caused scramble and partition of East Africa. European countries developed national pride in superiority over others. Therefore possession of colonies became a symbol of superiority. For example Germany and Italy were moved by that influence.
Strategic reasons also led to the scramble and partition of East Africa. Following the construction of the Suez Canal, Britain realised that Egypt could not survive on its own without the Nile; she therefore colonized Sudan and Uganda.
Europeans wanted to pursue their humanitarian motive of stopping slave trade in East Africa, Which was considered an inhuman act.
Some East African tribes were hostile to the early Europeans for example explorers, missionaries and traders. They therefore wanted to protect them in East Africa by taking full control.