This review of African Payment for Watershed Services (PWS) schemes describes ongoing and proposed initiatives, and describes the factors that cause Africa to have far fewer PWS initiatives than Latin America. An understanding of these factors can help natural resource management and development practitioners identify the field characteristics under which PWS programs can succeed. One particularly important element of existing and proposed African PWS initiatives is their focus on poverty alleviation. As a PWS objective, poverty alleviation in Africa is considered as valuable, or more valuable, than the watershed services that are the ostensible target of these payments. The implied social targeting that comes with a focus on poverty alleviation increases the transaction costs and decreases the level of watershed services provided by PWS in Africa. Moreover, it implies that the current dependence of African PWS programs on general tax revenues for financing, rather than direct payments from beneficiaries, will likely continue. Further experimentation and information-sharing over the next 5 years should offer a clearer picture of the potential for PWS to achieve environmental and social objectives on the African continent.