One of the key Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations (UN) aims by 2030 to "end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture". Fertilizers will play a pivotal role in achieving that goal given that ~90% of crop production growth is expected to come from higher yields and increased cropping intensity. However, materials-science research on fertilizers has received little attention, especially in Africa. In this work we present an overview of the use of fertilizers in Africa to date, and based on that overview we suggest future research directions for material scientists. Developing a new generation of local and affordable fertilizers will launch Africa into a new phase of remunerative agricultural production that in turn will lead to both food self-sufficiency and considerable progress towards goals of food and nutrition security.