The Institute was founded in October 1959. Over the past 50 years, the Institute has been conducting research on historical, socio-economic, ethno-cultural and political problems of all independent African nations that emerged on the continent following the collapse of the colonial system. This collapse had led to the formation of a research field for the development of Soviet-African, and later Russian-African relations. Since then the scholars of the Institute have played a considerable part in the development of African studies in Russia. Their names are well-known the centres of African Studies all around the world.
Prof. Ivan Potekhin was the first Director of the Institute, his successors being Corresponding Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences Prof. Vasili Solodovnikov and Prof. Anatoly Gromyko. In 1992-2015 the Institute was directed by Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Prof. Alexei Vassiliev.
The Institute’s activities are performed in top priority fields of fundamental study prescribed by the Academy Presidium and listed in the Institute’s Statute.
The IAS is the key institution for the activities of the Academy Research Council for the Problems of Africa under the Department for Global Problems and International Relations of Russian Academy of Sciences.
The IAS employs 93 researchers, including a Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 20 Doctors of Sciences and 53 PhDs, 3 Professors of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The IAS embraces 10 research centres. In addition, there are the Department of Information and International Relations, the Doctoral Studies Department and the Editing and Publishing Department.
The library of the RAS Institute for African Studies is a collection of scientific and reference literature on Africa, the largest in the Russian Federation and CIS countries. Its selection numbers about 120 thousand of library items: books, pamphlets, dissertations and periodicals in Russian and foreign languages covering the problems of Africa and the Arab world.