Africa Centre was founded in 2000 by a group of activists in the African migrant community who wanted to give the community a voice and promote their active participation in Irish society. The organisation was officially launched in October 2001 by then South African Ambassador to Ireland, Ms Melanie Verweord, along with Mr. Niall Crowley, former Chief Executive Officer of the Equality Authority.
AkiDwA emerged from regular meetings held among fellow migrant women, from 1999 to 2001, convened by Salome Mbugua, a Kenyan migrant woman who had arrived in Ireland in 1994. The first meeting was held in city centre Dublin, in Temple Bar, in 1999. In 2001, through the support of the Catherine McAuley Centre, Salome mobilised a group of African women to come together to share their experiences of living in Ireland. What emerged from this meeting were feelings of exclusion, isolation, racial abuse and discrimination, along with issues related to gender based violence. The group went on to meet regularly and were supported and offered facilitation from outside. AkiDwA sought and obtained funding from the Combat Poverty Agency in 2002 to carry out a pilot needs assessment with African women living in Ireland. The survey elicited over two hundred female participants from seventeen counties.