This study examines the relationships between industry and universities in Africa, in the context of pressure on higher education institutions for more relevance to economic and social needs. The analysis draws on in-depth qualitative data obtained through 32 elite interviews with key informants from higher education, business, government, and international aid agencies, across 13 linguistically and culturally diverse countries in Africa. The analysis revealed the factors that facilitate or inhibit stronger university-industry partnerships, as well as the potential opportunities for future partnerships. The study also reveals the role played by international aid agencies in these partnerships. Overall, informants recognised the contribution of university-partnerships to sustainable development. They believe that an approach that integrates economic concerns and social considerations in university-industry partnerships will help ensure sustainable economic and social development.