In honour of Black History Month we will be recognising notable contributions to the STEMs from people of African origin. Today we recognise Dr. Nancy Hafkin.
Born in South Africa, Dr. Hafkin is most known for her pioneering role in the area of networking, development information, and electronic communications. She spent most of her career at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa as a programme coordinator and then later team leader promoting ICT for development. During the early days of the internet, she worked with the Association of Progressive Communication to expand internet access within Africa and facilitated email connectivity in more than 10 African countries.
Dr. Hafkin was chief of research for 12 years in the program for women and development at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) — the first international women and development program in the world — and went on to head the ECA program to Promote Information Technology for Development in Africa. In this role, she worked to establish the African Information Society Initiative (AISI). She also helped build the Pan African Development Information System and served as chief of research and publications at the African Training and Research Center for Women. Her experience and skills have led to multiple written works including a recent publication discussing ways that ICT can be used to empower women.
Dr. Hafkin is an inductee to the Internet Hall of Fame, a life time achievement award conferred by the Internet Society in recognition of individuals who have made significant contributions to the development and advancement of the internet. She serves as an Executive Board member of the international NGO PACT Inc. and on the advisory boards of a number of initiatives to encourage the use of the Internet for education in Africa. Although she officially retired in 2000, she has continued to promote ICT development in Africa and has an annual prize named after her to recognise outstanding initiatives using ICT for development.