ARUA is intended to develop local research excellence through collaboration to find solutions to the development problems of Africa.
ARUA is currently governed through a Board of Directors which is made up of the 17 Vice Chancellors of member universities.
The Board is expected to meet annually and to be concerned with general policy and oversight of programmes and operations, while leading the development of strategic objectives.
Six of the members of the Board constitute an Executive Committee, which is scheduled to meet quarterly. The Committee is required to take responsibility for carrying out the oversight responsibilities of the Board on a more regular and frequent basis. Apart from the Chair and Co-Chair of the Board, the remaining four members of the Executive Committee represent the different sub-regions that are reflected by ARUA universities.
Managing the affairs of ARUA on a day-to-day basis is the Secretary-General of the Alliance. The Secretary-General reports to the Board through the Executive Committee. He is assisted by a Secretariat currently located in Accra, Ghana, with support from the Secretariat at the University of the Witwatersrand. By the initial support provided for the start-up of ARUA from the Kresge Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Witwatersrand University manages the financial resources of ARUA and accounts for these to the funding agencies.
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University in September 2017. Prof. Nawangwe is a Registered Professional Architect with research interests in Vernacular Architecture and Informal Settlements.
He has chaired boards of several national, regional and international boards of professional organisations including the Board of the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) and the Resilient Africa Network (RAN).
He becomes the third Board Chairman of ARUA.
Prof. Sizwe Mabizela the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University following his appointment in 2014. He was the first black African vice-chancellor at Rhodes University in over 100 years. He is a professor of Mathematics.
He becomes the second Co-Chair of the ARUA Board.