Imperial British East Africa Company

History and Problems Faced by Imperial British East Africa Company

The Imperial British East Africa Company (Abbreviated IBEACO) was a business organization established to promote African trade in British-controlled territory. The firm was founded in London on April 18, 1888, and Queen Victoria awarded it a royal charter on September 6, 1888. It was managed by William Mackinnon and expounded on his company’s commercial activity in the area, with the British government‘s assistance in the form of an imperial charter—though it was unclear what this signified.

The Imperial British East Africa Company was in charge of a 246,800-square-mile (639,000-square-kilometer) area along Africa’s eastern coast, with its center at 0° latitude and 39 degrees East Longitude. Its activities were centered on Mombasa as well as its harbor, with its administrative office situated at Shimoni about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south. It offered British subjects freedom from prosecution in exchange for the authority to levy taxes, administer justice, impose custom charges, signs treaties, and otherwise operate as the area’s government.

William Mackinnon
William Mackinnon

The Imperial British East Africa Company handed over management of the area to the British government in 1893. In 1894, the Uganda Protectorate was established, followed by the East Africa Protectorate (now Kenya) in 1895.

History of the Imperial British East Africa Company

European countries scrambled to acquire unclaimed territory inside regions of interest in the African continent in the early 1880s. The Zanzibar Sultanate and Eastern Africa’s inland were two of these locations that drew the attention of both Germans and British. In order to address this joint interest peacefully, Germany and the United Kingdom formed a treaty in 1886 in which they agreed on which lands they would pursue exclusively. Germany would claim the coast of modern-day Tanzania, but Britain would keep access to the region where Uganda and Kenya are located.

Meanwhile, Britain was devoting its resources to other endeavors, including the acquisition of territory in Southern Africa. As a result, the British government was hesitant to take complete responsibility for the newly recognized area. Britain explored granting a business corporation the power to govern and develop the eastern area in order to alleviate this possible burden. Imperial British East Africa Company and Sir William Mackinnon were given permission to act in this capacity in 1888.

The Imperial British East Africa Company was given responsibility for the territory that stretched from Uganda’s eastern coast to Lake Victoria‘s northern coastline.

The Imperial British East Africa Company’s major duty was to start assisting the construction of a railroad linking Mombasa’s east coast area to Lake Victoria, in addition to the projected job of supervising the exporting and administration of products and agriculture. In 1891–1892, the company hired John Pringle Wallace and James Macdonald, both Royal Engineers officers, to conduct the survey. The two spoke positively of Kikuyuland, stating that it would be appropriate for European occupation. The Imperial British East Africa Company, on the other hand, lacked the necessary cash to begin the project. In 1890, the Imperial British East Africa Company began construction of the Mackinnon-Sclater road, a 970-kilometer (600-miles) ox-cart route between Mombasa and Busia on the Ugandan border.

Frederick Lugard
Frederick Lugard

On Lake Victoria, the corporation ordered the SS William Mackinnon, a 110-ton multi-purpose steamer. She was constructed in Scotland in 1890 and shipped to Mombasa as a kit. However, the kit remained in storage until 1895, possibly due to the Imperial British East Africa Company’s inability to begin construction of the railway that would transport the kit to Lake Victoria.

The corporation was unable to commit the necessary money and time to this project due to brewing strife between different groups. The four factions engaged in Uganda, the French Catholics, the Protestants, the Kabaka, and the Company, we’re unable to settle their differences amicably, and civil war ensued in January 1892 as tensions continued to build. The Imperial British East Africa Company was able to achieve a futile victory because of Frederick Lugard, who was tasked with fortifying the Company’s position on Kampala Hill.

The company’s eventual ruin was due to this disagreement. Imperial British East Africa Company already struggled with financial trouble owing to customs concerns, but the money invested to support this conflict nearly bankrupted the organization. This also made it evident that the firm could not continue with its botched colonization project in eastern Africa.

The British East Africa Company was a failed attempt to give commercial enterprises local administrative authority. Inevitably, the British government proclaimed Uganda a protectorate in 1894, essentially abolishing Imperial British East Africa Company and taking complete authority for the country.

Following the fall of the Imperial British East Africa Company, the British government finished the majority of the Mackinnon-Sclater road. Between 1896 to 1901, the British government constructed the Uganda Railway to Lake Victoria’s Kisumu. The SS William Mackinnon arrived in Kisumu packaged as a kit in 1898 and was officially launched in 1900, it was finished and put into operation in 1901, much like the railway.

Today, all what is remained is the Imperial British East Africa Company coins, which some of them can be found on online marketplaces such as Ebay.

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