EARCE started officially as an initiative of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) at a conference held on 28 - 30 September 2004 in Nairobi. Its main purpose is to contribute towards building capacity through knowledge sharing in the continent. For this purpose, strong multilateral partnerships amongst governments in East Africa, major universities there, the private sector organizations and labour organizations have been established in most of the countries in which EARCE is being implemented.
Given the worldwide skepticism about Africa-centred knowledge and African knowledge centres, the complexity of the national politics and the different organisational cultures, the camaraderie and the common vision that have been achieved over the 2 years are remarkable. The EARCE example provides Africa with hope that African governments, scholars, business people and representatives of labour movements could synthesize a common vision, without any assistance from the North, and begin to implement it.