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Release: Dec. 17, 2001

WiderNet Project accepting computer donations

IOWA CITY, Iowa – If one of those brightly wrapped packages this holiday season turns out to be a new computer, a University of Iowa group has the perfect way to help make room in the office: donate the older model to the WiderNet Project African University Program.

The WiderNet Project is a nonprofit university linkage project based at the UI that aims to improve digital communication for colleges in developing countries by coaching and training them in the use of computers, networks, and the Internet.

The WiderNet Project collects used but functional computers and networking equipment for partner universities in Nigeria. These Nigerian partners pay the shipping fees for the computers and equipment, and the computers wind up in student Internet cafes and academic departments.

"Some Nigerian universities have just a couple dozen PCs for thousands of students," said Cliff Missen, one of the project directors. "Even a slow Pentium PC is a giant step forward for students who would otherwise be typing their papers on a typewriter, or writing them by hand."

Missen and Michael McNulty, a professor of geography in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are co-directors of the project and work collectively with a staff of UI students. They seek computers that are Microsoft Windows compatible, Internet accessible, and are Pentium desktops or better -- 486 laptops are also welcome.

Anyone who has computers, software, or network equipment to donate, should call the WiderNet Project at (319) 335-2200 or send an email to All donations are tax deductible through the University of Iowa Foundation. This is an ongoing project so computer donations are accepted at any time.

The WiderNet Project is part of UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree and academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve 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.

For more information, contact: Courtney Caviness, Communications and Publicity Assistant, The WiderNet Project, (319) 335-2200,