Tropical Africa receives nearly all its precipitation as a result of convection. The characteristics of rain-producing systems in this region, despite their crucial role in regional and global circulation, have not been well-understood. This is mainly due to the lack of in situ observations. Here, we have used precipitation records from the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) to improve our knowledge about the rainfall systems in the region, and to validate the recently-released IMERG precipitation product. The high temporal resolution of the gauge data has allowed us to identify three classes of rain events based on their duration and intensity. The contribution of each class to the total rainfall and the favorable surface atmospheric conditions for each class have been examined. As IMERG aims to continue the legacy of its predecessor, TMPA, and provide higher resolution data, continent-wide comparisons are made between these two products. IMERG, due to its improved temporal resolution, shows some advantages over TMPA in capturing the diurnal cycle and propagation of the meso-scale convective systems. However, the performance of the two satellite-based products varies by season, region and the evaluation statistics. The results of this study serve as a basis for our ongoing work on the impacts of biomass burning on precipitation processes in Africa.