History & Background

The WiderNet Project was founded in the 2000.

As a Fulbright scholar studying in Nigeria in 1999-2000, WiderNet Co-Founder Cliff Missen experienced firsthand the frustrations caused by a lack of Internet access while teaching at the University of Jos.

Together with a UI graduate student, Missen created the first version of the digital library after requesting that the student send him some web pages on a CD-ROM.

From the first CD, Missen continued to work to overcome digital communication obstacles, eventually placing materials onto a hard drive through a process of copying websites with permission, then uploading materials to a server at partner institutions.

The project, which was a tremendous success, was dubbed the "eGranary Digital Library" because the digital library holds the seeds of knowledge just as an African granary holds the seeds of a future crop.

Since the WiderNet organization began, staff, students and volunteers have worked continuously to deliver educational materials to the seven out of eight people worldwide who have inadequate Internet access.

Today the project has installed the eGranary Digital Library at more than 1,200 partner institutions around the world - and donated more than 1,600 computers for use in African universities.

In addition to the eGranary Digital Library, WiderNet also provides numerous training opportunities and conducts technology research, through which thousands of university staff and administrators have been trained in programs customized to suit their institutions' specific needs.

The organization continues to make steady progress toward bridging the digital divide on a global scale.  We've worked in numerous countries and institutions and have made "a world of difference" in the lives of many.

We strive to serve the information-poor with our programs and spread the gift of knowledge worldwide, with a focus on implementing technology in places where it simply didn't exist.