In the mid-19th century, Protestant missions carried out active work on the coast of Guinea, South Africa and the dominions of Zanzibar. Missionaries visited little-known regions and peoples and, in many cases, became explorers and pioneers of trade and empire. David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary, had served north of the Orange River since 1840. In 1849, Livingstone crossed the Kalahari Desert from south to north and reached Lake Ngami. Between 1851 and 1856, he crossed the continent from west to east and discovered the great waterways of the upper Zambezi. In November 1855, Livingstone became the first European to see the famous Victoria Falls, named after the Queen of the United Kingdom. From 1858 to 1864, the Lower Zambezi, the Shire River and Lake Nyasa were explored by Livingstone. Nyasa was first reached by the confidential slave of António da Silva Porto, a Portuguese merchant founded in Bié, Angola who crossed Africa between 1853 and 1856 from Benguella to the mouth of the Rovuma River. One of the main objectives of the explorers was to locate the source of the Nile. The burton and Speke (1857-1858) and Speke and Grant (1863) expeditions located Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. It was finally proved that it was the latter from which the Nile flowed. Almost at the same time as the Dutch, other European powers tried to create their own outposts for the African slave trade.
As early as 1530, the adventurers of the English trade in West Africa began to increase trade and came into conflict with Portuguese troops. In 1581, Francis Drake reached the Cape of Good Hope. In 1663, the English built Fort James in The Gambia. A year later, another English colonial expedition attempted to colonize southern Madagascar, resulting in the deaths of most of the settlers. The English forts on the West African coast were eventually taken by the Dutch. Prior to the conference, European diplomacy treated Indigenous Africans in the same way as Indigenous Peoples of the New World, making trade relations with tribal leaders. This can be seen in examples such as the Portuguese trade with the Kingdom of Congo. With the exception of trading posts along the coasts, the continent was essentially ignored. This was changed by King Leopold of Belgium`s desire for personal glory and fortune, and by the mid-19th century, Africa was considered ripe for exploration, trade, and colonization. The task of this conference was to ensure that any European country that claimed ownership of any part of Africa had to bring civilization in the form of Christianity and trade to all the regions it occupied. .