The software industry offers big opportunities for African countries. It opens up access to important technologies that benefit the continent, but also constitutes an area where Africa can contribute and generate innovation-led business opportunities. Recent developments in mobile technologies on the continent have opened up new avenues for innovation and software development, especially in local languages. Both foreign and local companies are developing new applications in finance and banking, health agriculture, education, and more, aimed at tackling the challenges faced by the population on the continent.
Africa is home to about 2,000 languages, equivalent to one-third of the world’s living languages. This asset has been distorted into a threat to national unity and cited to justify the use of the past colonial language as the primary medium of instruction and governance. The development of any nation today depends on the level and quality of producing, accessing, and disseminating local knowledge and technologies. Unfortunately, in most African countries foreign sources of knowledge and information are dominant and mastered by only a minority that can access this foreign language.
Based on the above, and in reaffirming the role of African universities and research institutions in the information and knowledge society, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) created the Academia Research Network on African Language and Content Development to computerize and promote African languages in cyberspace. The network is currently developing a model for Rural Electronic Schools in African Languages (ERELA) in Cameroon, in collaboration with the National Association of Cameroonian Languages Committee (NACALCO). More.