A regional external quality assessment scheme (REQAS) for anti-HIV serology aimed to objectively assess reliability and quality of HIV testing processes in the African region. This involved the distribution of proficiency testing (PT) panels to participating laboratories from 2002 to 2010. During the survey period, this included 16 distributions of PT panels to 49 laboratories in 30 countries, and the overall average score during the nine-year survey period was 98.9%, with a frequency of accurate detection, of anti-HIV-1 and/or anti-HIV-2 antibodies in the PT panels, ranging from 93% to 100%. Problems highlighted included lack of human resources and frequent stock outs of test kits, reagents and consumables for routine HIV testing. The design of the REQAS allowed appraisal of the reliability of anti-HIV serological testing methods utilised by laboratories for clinical assessment of patients and/or surveillance programmes. The REQAS was able to demonstrate that laboratories participating in the REQAS performed well and sustained their participation in the scheme. This bodes well for clinical diagnosis, surveillance and training activities at these reference laboratories.