The ANCL was established in 1997 under the auspices of the IACL, with Prof Babacar Kanté, Vice President of the Senegalese Constitutional Court and a member of the IACL Executive Committee, as convenor. Between 1997 and 2000, the ANCL organised two symposia and published two issues of its bulletin. Owing to funding and communications problems, however, it thereafter ceased to operate.
In April 2006 a group of constitutional scholars and jurists from across Africa met in Cape Town to discuss the revival of the ANCL. Judge Babacar Kanté convened the meeting. Also present at the Cape Town meeting were other members of the IACL Executive Committee, including the President of the IACL, Prof Cheryl Saunders; the Secretary-General, Prof Theunis Roux; and the Anglophone representative of sub-Saharan Africa on the IACL Executive Committee (EC), Prof Christina Murray.
Plans to revive the ANCL have been underway for several years, within the EC of the IACL. The meetings in Cape Town and Nairobi were the culmination of this process. The immediate catalyst for the timing of the Nairobi meeting, however, was the approach of the 7th IACL World Congress of Constitutional Law, which was held in Athens in June 2007. It was considered imperative that African constitutional scholars and African constitutional perspectives be adequately represented at this event.
At the Cape Town meeting, it was agreed that an essential first step in reviving the ANCL would be to hold a conference for African constitutionalists, well in advance of the World Congress. This conference was held in Nairobi in April 2007. It was successful by every measure and began the process of building links among African constitutionalists from Anglophone, Lusophone and Francophone Africa, and it provided an opportunity to exchange ideas on issues of current importance for rights and constitutionalism in Africa. At the conference, the new organisational aspects of the re-launched ANCL were put in place: new office bearers were elected, the University of Cape Town was identified as the home of the secretariat, and a programme for future action was determined.
After the 2007 Nairobi conference, the ANCL held another conference in May 2012 in Lagos. The conference was hosted by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the Faculty of Law at the University of Lagos under the leadership of Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo. The conference was successful and well attended by ANCL members based in the continent and abroad. Unfortunately, some of the planned activities of the conference were not successfully implemented. One of these is the election of the members of the executive committee of the ANCL. The lack of leadership, led to the ANCL being unable to carry out its mandate.
In June 2014, about 20 members of the ANCL who attended the World Congress of the International Association of Constitutional Lawyers in Oslo, Norway, to, amongst others, commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Constitution of Norway. The congress was hosted by the faculty of law, University of Oslo. In Oslo, members of the ANCL in attendance met and agreed to revive the ANCL. This only took off in 2016, when Prof. Enyinna Nwauche, Dr. Elvis Fokala, Ms. Vanja Karth, and Dr. Adem Abebe opted to constitute the coordinating committee of the ANCL, with Prof Nwauche as its leader. The objective of this interim structure was to hold another conference of the ANCL and to facilitate the successful organization of elections to elect the members of the Executive Committee of the ANCL.
Pursuant to several meetings of the interim committee and plans to revive the ANCL, in 2018, a conference was held, in collaboration with the Department of Law, at the University of Botswana under the theme “Courts, Power and Constitutional Law in Africa”. During the conference and particularly at the general assembly, members present agreed to hold elections at the next ANCL conference in 2020 and proceeded to nominate and vote members of the electoral committee. The members include – Prof. Charles Fombad (Chairperson), Mr. David Hofisi (Secretary), Ms. Elsy Sainna (Assistant Secretary), and Dr. Charles Khamala (Member). However, due to COVID-19, this conference and election could not hold and both activities were postponed to 2021 in Nairobi.