Need some land to help your business expand? You're in Africa. It's the world's second-biggest continent.
Given increasing economic and political interest in the continent and the shining examples of economic success from several of its nations, it is not unexpected that many economists today consider Africa to be the most promising continent.
Africa is enormous, and it is home to many cultures and languages. Those who treat it as a monolithic culture or ethnic group miss the point. We are talking about a billion people and 54 unique countries.
From a linguistic perspective, were you aware that over 2,000 different languages are spoken throughout Africa, with roughly only 100 used for inter-ethnic communications?
Africa is a continent bursting at its linguistic seams, with a total of about 8,000 distinct languages and dialects.
However, only 12 of these languages are used by 75% of Africans as either a first or second language, while 15 languages are used by 85% of African populations, as stated in a study published by the United Nations Development Programme in 2004.
Consequently, we believe that localisation is crucial to ensuring that people in Africa have improved access to information and communication technologies. There are several obstacles to breaking into the African market, since each of the continent's 54 nations has different linguistic requirements. In addition, there is a lack of standardised linguistic assistance and a wide gap between urban and rural areas, as well as a lack of trustworthy information. However, many organisations are eager to contribute to progress. This is certainly the case with UNESCO, which established a partnership with the International Centre for Research and Documentation on African Traditions and Languages (CERDOTOLA) in 2013 to advance African cultural awareness. Localisation must obviously play a significant role in narrowing the digital divide. New material translated and localised into indigenous African languages is encouraging an increasing number of Africans to write in their mother tongues rather than in French or English.
Generally, African languages are classified as Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo, Khoe, Austronesian or Indo-European. The primary languages of Africa are Arabic, Somali, Berber, Amharic, Oromo, Swahili, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
Below is a brief on some of the main languages in Africa.
In Africa, English is the primary language in Botswana, Cameroon, Rwanda, Nigeria, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana. English is considered an official language along with ten other languages in South Africa.
Swahili is the official language of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. It is a Bantu language and is the mother tongue of the Swahili people. It is the language of many communities in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Mozambique, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
French is one of a few languages spoken globally. Many African countries were French colonies. For this reason, more than 90 million people on the African continent can speak French. In countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Senegal and Rwanda, French is commonly used in daily life.
Many people who live in West, North and Central Africa use this language. Hausa belongs to the West Chadic language branch of the Chadic language group. It is an Afro-Asiatic language. Hausa contains between 23 and 25 consonant sounds.
Many people living on the Horn of Africa speaks Oromo, which belongs to the Cushitic language family. Oromo is not an official language of any country. You will find people speaking that language in Ethiopia, Somalia, Egypt and Kenya.
Many people in Nigeria speak Yoruba. It is also widespread in Togo and Benin. Yoruba is a language of varying tone, most of which are written using the Latin alphabet.
Igbo is the indigenous language of the Igbo people, with more than 20 dialects. All these dialects are written using the Latin alphabet. Igbo is a tonal language.
Amharic is the second commonest Semitic language (after Arabic) in the world. It is the official language of Ethiopia. Outside Ethiopia, about 2.7 million immigrants speak Amharic. More than 17.8 million people speak Amharic in Africa.
Zulu or Isizulu is a language from the eastern side of South Africa. Its pronunciation is unique. It is written in Latin letters. Zulu is commonly used by the South African media. According to the informational website Ethnologue, which is concerned with counting the number of speakers of living languages, Zulu is the second most widely spoken Bantu language after the Shona.