Vegetation cover is a crucial component of the Earth's climate system but, still, our understanding of the mechanisms governing the reciprocal influence between atmosphere and vegetation is limited. In this study, we investigate the unilateral atmospheric impact on vegetation cover in tropical and northern Africa, differentiated into regions with different circulation regimes and into detailed land-cover classes. In contrast to former studies, climate predictors from a regional climate model are used as input for a multiple regression model. Climate models provide consistent data without gaps at high spatial resolution, a considerably larger set of available climate variables and the perspective to transfer the statistical relationships to future projections, e.g., in the context of anthropogenic climate change. Indeed, robust climate predictors which drive up to 70 % of observed interannual vegetation variability could be extracted from the climate model. Besides precipitation and temperature, global radiation, and relative humidity play an important role. The statistical transfer functions are plausible in terms of the affected regions and land-cover classes and draw a rather complex picture of the atmosphere-vegetation relation in Africa.