This study was driven by the increasing reports on failures of e-learning initiatives in higher education institutions in developing countries. The aim was to investigate academics’ readiness for online teaching in higher education in developing countries in Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many higher education institutions to offer education in online spaces and affirmed the need for distance education and e-learning in the education sector, but it also revealed the skills gaps in e-learning. I used the technological pedagogical content knowledge theory (TPACK) and the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) to support and guide this study. In the study, I used an exploratory configurative systematic review, employing multiple qualitative case studies to collect and synthesise data. The PRISMA 2020 guidelines and checklist were also used to ensure that appropriate steps were taken to guard the data collection and synthesis quality. Consistent with previous research, the findings in this study indicated that higher education institutions in developing countries in Africa and other developing countries did not adequately plan and manage their e-learning implementation projects. Further research on the readiness of leaders of higher education institutions and managers in academic departments in developing countries may reveal important underlying issues contributing to the highly reported failures of the e-learning initiatives. Higher education institutions need to openly and honestly document the journeys of their e-learning projects and lessons learnt, intending to help reduce and combat the reported failures and to save the limited resources with which they operate.