University of Iowa researchers have won a quarter-million dollar grant to help African nations develop computer networks. Cliff Missen, a systems analyst in the U-of-I department of biophysics, will be training educators in Nigeria, which is decades behind our technology.Missen was in Nigeria last year, assigned to a university that had 13-thousand students and only four working telephone lines. That, of course, made it difficult to use a computer modem. Another key ingredient in getting a computer on-line is electricity, which is also a premium in Nigeria.Sometimes, the power was out for two weeks at a time and generators or car batteries had to be hooked up to run the computers. Missen will be working with some African university administrators via email for a few months. In February, he and a few U-of-I colleagues will be going overseas for several weeks to do more hands-on training and set up several computer networks. He says the students are very excited.The U-of-I is also collecting used computers to ship to Africa. They should be at least Pentium-class. For donations, contact Missen through “www.widernet.org” or by calling (319) 335-7880.
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