The African University was developed as a follow-up of the 1st Africa-Europe Youth Summit (Lisbon, 2007) as a way to promote the contribution of youth for the implementation of the EU-Africa Strategic Partnership. Since the development of 2012-2015 Action Plan and the launching of the AEYP in 2011, the University was defined as an annual and permanent feature, and its consolidation became a priority of the cooperation.

The African University on Youth and Development aimed at creating a space for debate and reflection, affirmative youth action and promotion of youth policies, training and non-formal education, as well as intercultural and inter-regional dialogue within the context of Euro-African youth cooperation and the follow-up of the Africa Europe Youth Summits.

The first edition of the African University was modeled after the University of Youth and Development in Spain (since 2000) and the University of Participation and Citizenship in Latin America (since 2004). Later on, all of them - with the Mediterranean University (since 2011) - constituted the Network of Universities on Youth and Global Citizenship, established in 2011.