Effective health tools (drugs, vaccines and diagnostics) are fundamental to tackling the diseases that disproportionately affect the African continent. However, drugs, vaccines and diagnostics are lacking for many endemic conditions and, where available, are often ineffective or too expensive. It is of the utmost urgency to scale up research aimed at discovering and developing new and improved tools to address these diseases. Building research capability and leadership in developing countries is increasingly seen as essential to tackling these major health issues. The Global Strategy and Plan of Action (GSPA ), outlined at the 61st World Health Assembly (WHA , 2008), provided the framework to drive health product innovation. A key element of this strategy is the formation of R&D networks in disease endemic countries to ensure that existing capabilities are leveraged, identified gaps are more effectively filled and local priorities drive the R&D agenda. As such, WHO /TDR, in conjunction with several African institutions and the African Diaspora, proposes the creation of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI). ANDI’s chief objective is to promote and support health product R&D led by African institutions for diseases of high prevalence in the Continent. The expected outcome is the discovery, development and delivery of affordable new health tools including those based on traditional medicine, as well as the development of capacity and establishment of centres of research excellence.