The Africa Center is the first institution of its kind – uniquely focused on a multidisciplinary approach to contemporary Africa and the continent’s Diaspora. With a mission encompassing policy, business and culture, The Africa Center is committed to an integrated approach for understanding all aspects of the African continent, including transforming narratives.
The Africa Center is located on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park. The Center’s physical presence at the intersection of Harlem and Museum Mile is a location that embodies the dynamism and diversity of Africa in the heart of New York City.
Building on the extraordinary legacy of the Museum for African Art, the Center offers contemporary visual, performing, literary, and digital arts programs. The cultural embrace of the Center is broad, spanning pop culture to museum quality exhibitions.
Taking advantage of the proximity of and relationship with the United Nations, the Center’s Policy Institute will host dialogues between visiting heads of state, dignitaries, and teams of global experts to jointly propose solutions.
The Center will help the private sector to navigate 54 distinct business climates. We will facilitate peer-to-peer introductions and help potential partners find each other, share best practices from the continent, and drive thought leadership on private enterprise can transform the African continent.
The Africa Center is launching inaugural programming including exhibitions, performances, talks, readings, book signings, and film screenings. The Center’s first year of programming is an opportunity to experiment and test cultural programming, including the intersections with policy and business, with the range of audiences that The Africa Center targets.
The Africa Center’s café and installation space is also home to Teranga, a fast casual dining concept by Chef Pierre Thiam. Teranga highlights food from the continent and hosts tastings and cooking demonstrations that are aligned with the Center’s programming and overall mission.
Why Africa today?
“Africa is the new frontier for business. With unprecedented growth in the natural resources sector and the services industry, at last Africa is turning a corner. What underpins the growth story is the improvement in governance, transparency, gender and human rights over the last decade. By 2035, Africa’s labour force will be larger than China. 15 of the 20 fastest growing cities in the world between 2015 and 2020 will be African. Today, Africa’s top trading partner is the EU followed closely by China. The US is a very distant third. That was not the case some years ago. The US needs to reconnect with Africa. That is why the Africa Center is relevant.” Mo Ibrahim, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
“Africa is evolving; America is evolving. As our shared experience of global economics, politics, and aesthetics transforms, we need institutions like The Africa Center to erect promising new re-imaginings of what it means to be African in the 21st century.” Kehinde Wiley, Contemporary Artist
“Life on earth begins in Africa making it the center of the world connecting us all. The Africa Center in Harlem will be the place where we can engage with Africa’s creative past and present, and help shape its promising future.” Fab 5 Freddy, Chief Creative Consultant, The Africa Center
Why is a building necessary?
“New York’s Africa Center commands a powerful international presence, which will draw upon the rich cultural, social and political legacy and history of the diaspora together with the inimitable cultural beat of New York, itself. This pairing is immediately captivating and will resonate with the contemporary African community and beyond. New York is a global city, which has welcomed the diaspora – and the Center is a fantastic platform from which to deliver this message to the world.” David Adjaye, Architect
“The colossal raw space of The Africa Center provided ample opportunities for dramatic interior designs. The challenge we embraced was to create a welcoming public space that encourages human interconnectivity on the grand scale as well as the intimate. Versatility and flexibility were among the driving goals, as was the play of light between the outside world and the inner sanctum. It is our hope that visitors feel inspired by the majesty of the soaring space and the dynamism of the internal configurations.” Sara Caples + Everardo Jefferson, Principals, Caples Jefferson Architects
Why New York?
“This is the African century. There’s a sort of static electricity around Africa at the moment that is exciting. I think, in a way, New York would be less relevant without a piece of that. New York has always been the global crossroads and now for the first time there is a clear sign post saying ‘Africa this way’ . . . fun, educational, imaginative. The Africa Center is great for the continent but it’s even greater for New York.” Bono, Musician, Activist and Philanthropist
“The cultural epicenter of the African diaspora in the United States is and always has been Harlem. With my dual perspective as a resident of Harlem and as an African-American business investor in Africa, I am looking forward to building bridges of understanding between Africans and Americans in the private and public sectors.” Dana M. Reed, Trustee, The Africa Center
Why is a center the answer?
“Africa’s role in global affairs is expanding and deepening. New York is a great city where much of the world’s politics and business is conducted. Africa needs a strong and vibrant presence in the city. . . the Africa Center, through dialogue and debate, will promote public understanding of African issues and present African perspectives on questions of world significance. The Africa Center, which reflects the ambition and vitality of a continent on the rise, will add a new and innovative dimension to New York’s long engagement with Africa.” Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General, United Nations
“The Africa Center represents an opportunity for a new narrative on the Africa that I know and experience every day. Companies such as the Dangote Group are at the forefront of redefining for the world what African business is and what Africa can accomplish with the right partners. Showcasing Africa in a new and positive light is what makes this project worthwhile and something that I am proud to support through my foundation.” Aliko Dangote, Industrialist, Investor
“Propelling Africa’s transformation requires a paradigm shift that The Africa Center’s interdisciplinary focus on policy, business and culture will help to actualize. Drawing on Africa’s and New York’s rich creative, entrepreneurial and intellectual talent creates the perfect space for envisioning contemporary Africa’s role in shaping new global traditions.” Jendayi Frazer, President & CEO, 50 Ventures, LLC & Board Trustee, The Africa Center