About 1988, I was run­ning a region­al devel­op­ment infor­ma­tion sys­tem at the United Nations eco­nom­ic com­mis­sion for Africa in Addis Ababa. It was based on exchange of infor­ma­tion with nodes in vir­tu­al­ly every African coun­try, and it was to be based on satel­lites for the exchange of that infor­ma­tion. Unfortunately the satel­lites weren’t there. So the infor­ma­tion was exchanged by fax where it exist­ed, or by snail mail where it didn’t. And sometimes—well this was an out­side case but there were many oth­ers like it—in one case an exchange of infor­ma­tion with Niger took nine years. If you put your search into Google today and you got your answer back in 2021, would you care? Would you still be alive?

So that stim­u­lat­ed us to move into real elec­tron­ic net­works. And we began at the stage of stor­ing for­ward pre-Internet, but it became clear that as the United Nations, we were bet­ter at con­tact­ing gov­ern­ments than splic­ing cables.

So we in 1995 got the African min­is­ters of eco­nom­ic plan­ning and devel­op­ment to sign on to the African Information Society Initiative to pro­mote Internet in Africa. And after that, a lot hap­pened, and a lot hap­pened very fast. And the strat­e­gy I think was quite forward-looking, par­tic­u­lar­ly at the time, because it looked not only at infra­struc­ture but it talked about inter­nal divides. And one thing that’s very grat­i­fy­ing for me being here now is to see so many young Africans doing so much towards real­iz­ing the vision of an Internet-based infor­ma­tion soci­ety in Africa and glob­al­ly.

But there’s one thing I want to men­tion. Since 1995, I’ve been very con­cerned with bring­ing more women glob­al­ly to the Internet. And I haven’t seen that many women come up front yet—maybe there’s a lot more com­ing. And cer­tain­ly they’ll be com­ing more after today. But I would just like to men­tion a few names of a num­ber of oth­ers who have been glob­al con­nec­tors, and not just on behalf of women but on behalf of the Internet in gen­er­al. I can men­tion Nashwa Abdelbaki, Kate Wild, Haymee Perez Cogle, Rinalia Rahim, Anriette Esterhuysen, Karen Banks, [Amoldo Engueno?], Shafika Isaacs, Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane, [Aidel Puku Mensa?], Mercy Wambui, Anita Gurumurthy, just to name a few. So I would like to accept this award in the name of all the women who have worked as glob­al con­nec­tors for and on the Internet. Thank you very much. 


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