The increasing rate at which e-Learning is implemented in institutions of higher education has been reported widely. The literature suggests that institutions of higher education, across the globe, use the efforts of champions to initiate and establish e-Learning activities. The paucity of research about the activities of e-Learning champions in an African context is noticeable, while implementation of e-Learning is spreading rapidly in Africa. It is to provide information within the African context of this activity that this study sought to identify and explain the activities and characteristics (through strategies) as well as the qualities (through motivations) of e-Learning champions as they engage in innovative practices in institutions of higher education in Africa. Two research questions guided the study which examined the activities of champions and how (activities and characteristics through strategies) and why (qualities through motivations) they engaged in their activities within their institutions. To address these questions, the study followed a qualitative research design, using semi-structured interviews with champions and policy level staff in institutions of higher education in Namibia, South Africa and Kenya as well as documents as its data sources. The intention was not to compare champions and their activities in these countries, but rather to establish understanding of these champions and their contexts as a group. The contextual relevance was solely based on the availability of champions and policy level staff due to the purposive and convenience sampling techniques applied. The study’s findings show that the activities of champions in Africa are not significantly different from those as described in recent literature in non-African countries. Rather, particular strategies and motivational factors are found that are related to activities, characteristics and qualities of champions. The support factors identified by policy level staff and in institutional policy documents differed from those thought to be motivating by champions themselves. Champions have expressed the need for an approved budget, sufficient infrastructure, an e-Learning unit with specialised staff, and dedicated time for e-Learning activities. Policy staff point to a level of support already in place in the form of some financial considerations for e-Learning and incentives. No explicit reference could be found in policy documents to the role of champions or what motivates them. This disjuncture between the environment of the champions and that of the established institution is explained by a maturity model of institutionalisation of innovations. The study’s contribution to the scholarly domain is at several levels. Firstly, the proposed conceptual framework is a contribution to academic discourse in that it contributed variables of analysis (strategies and motivations) of champions who engage in innovation within established institutions, institutional procedures, directives (through guidelines) and policies (through intentions), as well as goals which lead to a common objective in achieving scalability and sustainability. Secondly, the finding that institutions that wish to have innovations institutionalised must be aware of the disturbances that such innovations can bring and thus must create policies that recognise the role of champions and are able to accommodate, tolerate and support them. Thirdly, the synthesis of characteristics of champions, and their qualities with the support needed by them, and issues in relation to scalability and sustainability that may motivate institutions of higher education to support champions (or not) contribute guidelines which may be used to identify, acknowledge or recruit potential champions, where champions are needed.