Africa has a lot of fermented foods which need to be further developed for improved nutrition. Many authors have documented interesting articles and reviews on fermented foods from different parts of the world. The climate in many African countries favours short-term storage of fresh foods. Storage facilities are inappropriate and the supply of light energy is irregular. This suggests that fermentation might serve as an alternative preservation method for a long time in Africa. Biotechnological tools should be used to improve the science and technology of the fermentation of traditional African foods. This review highlights the key microorganisms and metabolic processes associated with African food fermentations. The paper outlines research challenges which need to be addressed in order to upgrade the fermentation of African foods. Internet searches were conducted using Google scholar and other search engines. Obtained information was collated and organized into raw materials commonly used for food fermentations and key microorganisms associated with African fermented foods. Fermented foods play a major role in African heritage, diet, socioeconomic, and cultural activities. Most are spontaneously fermented. Only few have been industrialized. These include fermentations of the beer brewing industries and other products such as mahewu from South Africa. There is the need to standardize and industrialize traditionally fermented African foods for improved food and nutrition security. Their additional health benefits should also be harnessed.
Keywords: traditional fermentations; African foods; microbiology; biotechnology; microorganisms; starter culture development; standardization; improvement;