Press Releases from the APC Networks
Get this document in:

Originator: --- (APC)
Date: 2001/23/04
Source: APC


April 23, 2001


JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -– APC has launched the Africa Hafkin Prize to reward outstanding African initiatives that successfully use information and communications technology (ICTs) for development. The prize is named in honour of Nancy Hafkin, a key electronic communications and networking champion in the region for over twenty years.

The theme for the 2001 Hafkin Prize is: women-led, women-informed, women-inspired initiatives.  The decision to focus this year’s prize on women and their achievements in the use of ICTs was inspired by the remarkable work of African women’s NGOs in the preparation for, and during, Beijing+5, the 5-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) which was the main focus of a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2000. Chapter J of the original BPFA had made strong recommendations about the need for women to be trained in using ICTs effectively to promote their own agendas, and African women seized the Beijing+5 evaluation process to use the tools, get information, be trained and have their say on ICT issues as well as on the other critical areas of concern.

“We want the Hafkin Prize to debunk what we consider some common myths about Africa and African women” explains Anriette Esterhuysen, APC Executive Director, long-time African networker, and former director of a successful South African non-profit Internet service provider.  “There is a perception that Africa is the ‘unconnected continent’, bypassed by the so-called ‘information age’, and that African women are disempowered victims of social and economic equality.  Of course there is some reality in these conceptions… but, what is NOT adequately recognised is that Africans, and specifically African women are being remarkably innovative, entrepreneurial and courageous in engaging information and communications technologies, in spite of limited access to resources and infrastructure.  The Hafkin Prize is as much about promoting African capacity and creativity in the information technology sector as it is about recognising specific initiatives.” 

The competition for the USD$7,500.00 Hafkin prize is open to civil society organisations, government institutions, educational organisations, community-based groups, networks, social movements or individuals anywhere in Africa. As well as being women-centred, qualifying initiatives must demonstrate the creativity of their use of ICTs (especially the Internet) and the success of their work in terms of mobilising participation and building capacity. Only initiatives that have been developed and implemented from within Africa, and by people and institutions that are based in Africa, are eligible.

APC will be accepting nominations for the Hafkin Prize until May 31, 2001 through the Hafkin Prize Website (see below). The stories of 12 finalists will be profiled on the Website, and the winner will be announced in August 2001.


The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), a leading think-tank on development issues, argues that access to and the strategic use of ICTs is central to the reduction of poverty and inequality.  The African Development Forum, convened by UNECA in October 1999, and other more recent events and processes, have convincingly demonstrated that Africans are embracing the information society with energy and entrepreneurship, in spite of the lack of sufficient access to infrastructure and resources. The Hafkin Prize will document African creativity in the area of ICTs for development and social and economic justice, and serve to affirm and inspire these African initiatives.


Dr. Nancy J. Hafkin, recently retired, is a true pioneer of networking and development information and communications in Africa over the course of a twenty-three year career. Nancy was among the first to enter the field of electronic communications in Africa.  Her advocacy around this issue has drawn attention to the growing potential of ICTs in Africa, and the cost to Africa of remaining outside the process of social and economic change brought about by the development of the global information society.  Her dedication, enthusiasm, and hard work have been exemplary.  Nancy's devotion to African networking and her confidence in the African continent and its human resources have helped build Africa's ICT framework through partnerships with governmental, non-governmental and development institutions.

Nancy Hafkin spearheaded the Pan African Development Information System (PADIS) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), as Officer-in-Charge from 1989 until 1997, during which time she was Project Leader of the Capacity Building for Electronic Communication in Africa (CABECA) project. She later served as Team Leader for Promoting of Information Technology for Development, of the Development Information Services Division of ECA (UN) from 1997 until 2000.   There she also served as Coordinator of the African Information Society Initiative (AISI), the African mandate to use ICTs to accelerate socio-economic development in Africa.  Nancy also served as a facilitator in establishing the Partnership for Information and Communication Technologies in Africa (PICTA), a coordinating body of donor and executing agency partners in support of the AISI.

Nancy Hafkin played a central role in facilitating the APC's work to enable email connectivity in more than 10 countries during the early 1990s, before full Internet connectivity became a reality in most of Africa.


Founded 1990, APC was the first globally interconnected NGO network of groups working for peace, human rights, development and protection of the environment. Offering e-mail and computer conferencing services to civil society in the late 1980s and early 1990s marked a huge leap into the future. There was no faster or more secure way for activists, including South African anti-apartheid groups, to get their messages out to the world and coordinate international action. APC continues to pioneer new ways for civil society to use the Internet strategically. Members and partners across the world continue to work together online, now moving into new areas monitoring ICT policies, linked to issues of freedom of information and access, in Europe, Latin America and Africa, and the role of information and communication technology in developing countries. Our network of members and partners spans the globe, with presence in Western, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. APC:

APC’s Africa Programme encourages APC’s African members and partners to work locally and regionally to interpret our action areas in the region. Strengthening indigenous information sharing and independent networking capacity on the continent are key priorities.

APC-Africa-Women, the regional programme of APC's Women's Networking Support Programme (APC-WNSP) gathers and works together with women and women's organisations in Africa and all over the world, focusing on African women's empowerment through information facilitation, regional support, policy and advocacy, training and research in the field of ICTs.


APC Hafkin Prize Website: [English] [French]

APC-Africa-Women: [English and French]


Anriette Esterhuysen
APC Executive Director
PO Box 31
2000 South Africa
Tel: + 27 11 726-1692
Fax: + 27 11 492-1058

Maureen James
APC Hafkin Prize Coordinator
53 Parkside Drive
Toronto, Ontario
M6R 2Y7 Canada
Tel: +1 416 516-8138
Fax: +1 416 516-0131

The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of APC. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit APC.

Distributed by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).
Presidio Building 1012 Torney Avenue P.O. Box 29904 San Francisco, CA 94129 USA
Tel: +1 416 516-8138 (Note: Toronto, Canada)
Fax: +1 416 516-0131 (Note: Toronto, Canada)