Following a series of workshops, studies and meetings, 11 African universities and institutions, supported by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA), concluded that insufficient amounts and high cost of Internet bandwidth were common problems that adversely affected teaching, learning and research. The problem also limited ability of sub-Saharan institutions to interact and collaborate with the global academic community. They decided to cooperate in solving that shared problem, by aggregating their bandwidth needs and forming a bandwidth purchasing consortium.
With support from four major U.S. foundations that are members of the PHEA, the African Bandwidth Consortium (BWC) project was launched in 2005.
The BWC Project was first hosted by African Virtual University (AVU) in Nairobi, and some still refer to it as the AVU BWC. In mid 2007, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Nairobi kindly accepted hosting responsibilities of the BWC as a stop-gap measure. The Nigeria ICT Forum of Partnership Institutions assumed hosting responsibilities for the BWC, effective from November 1, 2008.