Indeed, a critical analysis of available facts indicates that imperial expansion was initially motivated by economic considerations but soon assumed a political rationale.
Imperialism was initiated by economic imperatives. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a number of British and European companies had begun to expand abroad, chief amongst which was the East India Company (Penrose, 1975). These companies, all of whom represented the economic interest of the British and European elite and ruling classes, were eventually confronted by local and national resistance to their interests. In order to secure the interests of these companies and, in turn, that of the governing elite, Britain initiated the phenomenon of colonialism (Penrose, 1975). Through the economic, political and military domination of foreign territories, Britain position itself to secure and promote the interests of the companies in question.
Just as imperialism was instigated by economic imperatives, expansion into Africa was motivated by the bid for economic growth and the accumulation of wealth.