DOT-COM Activity: Africa Region - WiderNet Iowa
Country: Africa Region, Bangladesh, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, United Republic of Tanzania
Funder(s): Leland Initiative
Short Description: WiderNet will be working with African Universities to unblock the information bottleneck by creating digital libraries and training African academics how to share their research and collections online.
Phase/Type of Activity: Buy-in or Incremental Funding Status: Completed
Start date: April 15, 2003 End Date: September 15, 2005
Partners: University of Iowa
Person(s) to contact
Christopher Light , Sr. Program Officer
dot-ORG , Academy for Educational Development
Tel: 202 884-8762
Full Description: Via dot-ORG, WiderNet is working with African Universities to unblock the information bottleneck, which inhibits their ability to excel as teaching and research institutions. This project also trains African library staff, a large percentage of whom are women, to digitize their materials so that African research and collections can be shared around the world. Using satellite connections for high speed downloads, and LAN connectivity at the University, through WiderNet, any computer on the university's local area network (LAN), professors, students, and researchers will have access to millions of up-to-date documents at very high speed.
By using the existing local area network to access this pre-stored data, precious (and expensive) Internet bandwidth is conserved and freed for other information access needs. Each university will also receive training in information technology system maintenance and content creation, coaching in using and deploying the Internet at their institution, practical experience that will translate into expertise when they connect to the Internet, combined expertise of all WiderNet project participants and the opportunity to publish their work on a high-speed and reliable World Wide Web site.
Update 1 (as of June 2004):
To date, the WiderNet project has continued to increase the holdings of the digital library, the eGranary 1.3 million publications including 153 whole or partial websites and 405 new articles, books, papers, and journals. 229 publishers and 216 authors have given permission for their works to be reprinted for free for this activity.
22 education institutions are now participating from Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Mozambique and Tanzania. Next steps include broadening the collection to include non-English language materials, development of topic specific libraries (health, education, law, etc), expanding library access to other regions, and expand the program to public libraries, schools, health clinist and government offices.
Update 2: (October-December 2004)
The eGranary digital library collection has reached 1.8 million publications. WiderNet continues to work on the development and refinement of flexible delivery mechanisms where Internet connections are either unreliable or expensive (often both). Given the growing number of publications in the eGranary, it has become important to make improvements to the user experience and to develop improved methods for categorizing the publications and making the eGranary more user-friendly with search tools.
Update 3: As of May 1, 2005 The project has been granted a four-months extension and will end in August 2005. The Digital Library has been increased to over 1,800,000 documents for a total of 110 Gigabytes of information. The end of activity target is 2,000.000.
Final Update & Results: As of December 2005 The project is now completed. A total of 74 institutions have been connected to the library and more than 2.7 million documents are in place. Both of these exceed original project goals. The original statement of work called for a total of 60 institutions and 2 million documents.
Development Sector(s): Higher Education
ICT Intervention(s): Database development, LAN/network infrastructure, Technical Training
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