WiderNet Project Receives Donation from Microsoft to Aid African Universities

Release: November 19, 2001

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa’s WiderNet Project recently announced a $48,000 contribution of software from Microsoft Corp. to assist the University of Iowa in bridging the technology gap between Nigerian and Iowan universities.  The donated Microsoft software will enable Nigerian universities to build their first computer networks.

Microsoft donated Windows NT network server software for every partner university in Nigeria.  Over the next two years the WiderNet Project will send trainers to Nigeria who will coach Nigerians on computers, networking, and the Internet. 

Michael McNulty, UI geography professor and WiderNet co-director says, “Nigeria’s 27 federal universities have only a handful of trained computer technicians.  They will need hundreds trained over the next few years.”

Robert Reed, a program manager for Microsoft Research University Relations, stated, “I am delighted to be able to provide software for the University of Iowa, especially software that will have a tremendous positive impact on technology capabilities in this region.”

McNulty, along with Cliff Missen, Systems Analyst for the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, head the WiderNet Project, an Internet project that began a year ago.  The project aims to improve digital communication in developing countries.  This includes training computer technicians, coaching decision-makers of Nigerian universities, increasing bandwidth, establishing university intranets, donating computers and computer equipment, and distributing library materials on CD-ROM.

“This generous donation from Microsoft gives Nigerian universities the ability to develop first-class computer networks.” says Cliff Missen.  “This will certainly help WiderNet achieve our goal of improving digital communication for people in developing countries.”

Casey Niemann, Microsoft Higher Education Representative for Iowa, said, "Microsoft is honored to be able to support the WiderNet project in bridging the Digital Divide in Africa.  Through supporting the efforts of WiderNet, Microsoft hopes that technology will improve the learning environment abroad."

More information about the WiderNet Project can be found at their Web site www.widernet.org. WiderNet is currently collecting used computer and network equipment for use in Nigerian universities.  For information on how to make donations, visit the Web site, or contact WiderNet at (319) 335 – 2200.  More information about Microsoft can be found at their Web site www.microsoft.com.

The WiderNet Project is part of the University of Iowa’s International Programs, which serves to further internationalize the Iowa City campus and community and promotes global scholarship, research and training.

The WiderNet Project is funded by the University of Iowa, the MacArthur Foundation, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Nigerian National Universities Commission.



For more information, contact:


Courtney Caviness

Communications and Publicity Assistant

The WiderNet Project

(319) 335-2200