The WiderNet Project announces successful completion of the ‘The Gambia Project’ by UI graduate student

Contact: Justin Thiltgen (319) 335-2200
November 11, 2002

The WiderNet Project announces successful completion of the ‘The Gambia Project’ by UI graduate student

Iowa City, IA – The UI’s WiderNet Project recently announced the successful installation of a donated computer Internet network at The Gambia College of Public Health.  Prior to this undertaking, The Gambia College had just 27 computers  - from the World Bank and the African Development Bank  - that, when functioning, could only be used for word processing.  The implementation of a fully operational seven-computer network with Internet access will connect Gambian students to what has become the world’s premier intellectual resource and to unparalleled collaboration opportunities.  In addition, as Internet access in Africa can be excruciatingly slow, unreliable, and expensive due to many infrastructural impediments unique to the developing world, the WiderNet Project also installed its Digital Library, a knowledge base of digital information and mirrored websites that can be quickly accessed for free over The Gambia College’s new intranet system. 

Nigerian Saweda Liverpool, a UI graduate student pursuing her Master’s in Third World Development Support, led the delegation of WiderNet Project colleagues and volunteers to launch the Computer Lab and WiderNet Field Library.   Liverpool, says of the experience, “Going back to a developing country and working in a completely different environment, physically and otherwise, was quite challenging!  I believe that tough situations many times foster creativity!  Working with the Gambians was a constant search for possible solutions and alternatives...making the best with what we had.” 

Liverpool’s venture exhibits the WiderNet’s goals of facilitating African participation in global communication through developing systems that are economically and technologically appropriate within the African context and of furthering active partnerships between African Universities and the University of Iowa. This partnership will enrich the students, faculty, and academics of both institutions as well as progress the digitization of information and education in Africa.

The WiderNet 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.

The WiderNet Project is part of the University of Iowa International Program, which serves to further internationalize the campus and community and promote 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.

More information about the WiderNet Project can be found at their Web site  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.