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General News of Saturday, 21 May 2022


Prof. Nii Narku Quaynor: The man who introduced the internet to West Africa

Prof. Nii Narku Quaynor is known as the 'father of the internet in Africa'

GhanaWeb Feature

The history behind internet development and the emergence of internet service providers in Africa is a rarely told one.

While the world emerged into the new era of information in the mid-20th century, it may come as a surprise to many that a Ghanaian was at the forefront of leading the internet evolution in Africa.

Prof. Nii Narku Quaynor is widely known as the “father of the internet in Africa”. He is known for establishing the first internet service provider in Ghana and West Africa back in 1994.

He was born in Accra in the year 1948 into a family with members inclined toward science and technology. He attended the Achimota School in Accra before traveling abroad for further studies.

Prof. Quaynor, in an earlier interview with New African Magazine, recounts that his “family experienced no particular hardships at the time, although the instability of the coup d’état in 1966 [that overthrew President Kwame Nkrumah’s government] was sufficient for several students to move overseas for education.

“I myself left Ghana and went to the US for my university education three years after the coup. It was not because of the coup, however, I was simply following a line of senior brothers who all went overseas for their university education,” he told the magazine.

While studying abroad, Prof. Quaynor had the knack for chemistry, physics, pure and applied mathematics - subjects he excelled in during his A-Level education at Achimota School.

Prior to becoming the “father of the internet in Africa”, he studied BA Engineering Science, BSc. Engineering at Dartmouth College (1973) and later earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science at SUNY Stony Brook (1977).

After earning these educational qualifications, he returned to Ghana in 1979, where his love for science and technology saw him begin to implement the transformational new technology of the internet throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

He set up the Network Computer Systems Limited which helped in the development and expansion of the internet across Africa for nearly two decades.

Prof. Quayor also established some of Africa’s first internet connections and helped in the formation of other key organisations which included the African Network Operators Group.

He assisted in the establishment of the Computer Science Department at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana.

Despite these successes, Prof. Quaynor recounts some challenges his pioneering firm encountered in the quest of developing and expanding internet use in Africa.

He shared in an interview with the Africa News Magazine of the multiple conflicts with government officials as policies changed randomly while he and his team struggled to diffuse a network-based system in Ghana.

After working in numerous capacities across various organisations geared toward internet development and expansion in Africa, he became the first African on the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

He also served as an at-large director of ICANN for the African region from 2000 to 2003.

In addition to this recognition, Prof. Quaynor became a member of the United Nations Secretary-General Advisory Group on ICT. He was the Chair of the OAU Internet Task Force and President of the Internet Society of Ghana.

In 2007, the Internet Society awarded him the Jonathan B. Postel Service Award for his pioneering work in advancing the internet in Africa.

Prof. Nii Narku Quaynor was 2013 inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for his sterling contribution to technological evolution through the internet in Africa.

Watch a video of Prof. Quaynor's acceptance speech after being inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame


Author: Mawuli Ahorlumegah