The closing years of the nineteenth century were marked by a mighty struggle among the powers for the control of Africa. International rivalry in West Africa involved three great powers—England, France, and Germany. All three had acquired extensive commercial interests on the West Coast, and all three became convinced of the necessity of protecting these commercial interests by the establishment of political control. The Belgian King had been interested in Africa, having founded the International Association for the Discovery and Civilization of Central Africa at a conference held in Brussels in 1876. Rather than permit the situation to become critical, Jules Ferry made the suggestion thatan international conference be convened to deal with the problem. Fortunately for the cause of international peace, it was possible to compromise and thus avoid the humiliation of unconditional surrender. International rivalry in Nigeria did more to shape European alignments than most diplomatic historians have suspected.