The first-ever Roll Back Malaria Concert took place in Dakar, Senegal on 12-13 March 2005. The event featured top African artists led by internationally renowned Senegalese singer, songwriter and composer Youssou N’Dour and including established stars such as Baaba Maal, Salif Keita, Orchestra Baobab, Manu Dibango and Khaled as well as rising young African talents. The event reached roughly 30,000 spectators and an additional audience of one billion worldwide via television, DVD, radio and CD, celebrating the continent's creative energy and bringing a message of empowerment and hope for tackling its major scourge: malaria.
AFRICA LIVE had been conceived by Youssou N’Dour and documentary film director Mick Csáky of UK independent television production company Antelope as a celebration of Africa's creativity and vitality, and had been later dedicated to malaria in order to use the concert's reach as a powerful tool for communicating vital information about malaria.
RBM partners, led by the UN Foundation, had come together to raise the funds needed to make the concert —already partially funded— a reality. Major financial sponsors were Sumitomo Chemical, the United Nations Foundation, ExxonMobil, Novartis, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the WHO. Other partners, including the Government of Senegal, UNICEF and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), were making in-kind contributions.
The concert had been announced to the world at a press conference held at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January 2005.