In November 1997, the University of Bayreuth in collaboration with the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, initially financed by the VolkswagenStiftung in Hannover, launched a project entitled “Local Knowledge in Rural Development Projects in Mali”. In the same year, this project gave birth to Point Sud, an independent international research and training centre based in Mali and established as a non-governmental organization.

Point Sud, the “Centre of Research on Local Knowledge”, resulted out of a local initiative based in Bamako, the headquarters of the institute and the project. Between 2000 and 2003, part of the programme of Point Sud was integrated into the SFB/FK 560 “Local Action in Africa in the Context of Global Influences” at the University of Bayreuth as the project A6 “Interaction between Local Actors and Development Experts in Mali and Burkina Faso”. This project was directed by Prof. Mamadou Diawara.

Since 2004 Point Sud has been closely collaborating with the Goethe-University in Frankfurt/Main. Together they organize field research training in Mali for students of the Goethe-University in collaboration with their Malian counterparts. Point Sud was also associated with Goethe-University’s Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” and the interdisciplinary and transregional collaborative research project “Africa’s Asian Options” (AFRASO). Furthermore, Point Sud and the Goethe University are organizing the Programme Point Sud since 2009. Since 2018, Point Sud is also a partner of the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) at the University of Ghana in Legon.