Outside the accounts of Arab visitors, very few (if any) first hand accounts exist of pre-colonial Africa. Ibn Battuta's account is one of them. Even though his African travels occupied only a small part of Ibn Battuta's career (spanning over 3 decades of world travelling), they help to lift the curtain on what medieval Africa looked like. Descriptions of every day life in East Africa as well as scenes from the fourteenth century empire of Mali are invaluable- giving an account of African society slightly different from the stereotypes.
This book would also be useful to those interested in expansion of the islamic sphere of influence into Africa. One of the key attractions of Mali for Ibn Battuta was its adoption of islamic culture.
Other books that would make complimentary reading to this one are Medieval West Africa (N. Levtzion and J. Spaulding) and A History of Islam in West Africa (J. Trimingham).
I enjoyed the read!