The call for a Pan-African professional society of astronomers goes back several years. In 2008 both Peter Martinez (South Africa) and Pius Okeke (Nigeria) published articles on ways to develop astronomy in Africa, the latter specifically calling for the formation of a Pan-African African Astronomical Society.
Regional professional astronomical societies had been formed in both West Africa and East Africa. Colleagues in North Africa also have organized professional astronomy organizations, and the history of astronomy in South Africa is well documented.
At the 2010 launch of the African Physical Society in Dakar a number of astronomers from throughout the continent and the African diaspora resolved to form the African Astronomical Society in much the same manner as the African Physical Society was being formed. Following this meeting Pius Okeke wrote a whitepaper on the formation and the structure of the African Astronomical Society that was widely dissiminated amongst African astronomers.
At the same time Claude Carignan of Burkina Faso, who was also at the Dakar meeting, was actively organizing an IAU Symposium on galaxy formation in Ouagadougou for December 2010. This was the first IAU Symposium ever in Africa outside of South Africa. The Dakar meeting participants decided to form the African Astronomical Society at this IAU sypmposium.