The CAD was established in 1963. The initial proposals for the CAD were made during the First International Congress of Africanists, held in Accra, Ghana, in December 1962. Many of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa have been using Arabic for several centuries as an official and literary language for different types of written communication, hence the urgency to collect and document Arabic materials existing in private hands in various media, from inscriptions made on the bones of large mammals to writing on parchments. The Centre does not only store documents in Arabic, but documents in other languages written in the Arabic script. It issues a Research Bulletin in English and Arabic on new accessions as well as discussing the value of these Arabic manuscripts in relation to their historical, religious, literary, and social interest. Apart from rare books, materials in the CAD include microfilm, photostat, and xerox copies of documents in Arabic.