Information and Communication Technologies have been identified as major catalysts to rapid and sustainable development, especially in today's information-driven economies. The provision of timely, accurate and relevant information to the masses should therefore be a prime consideration in any development agenda. For this information to have an effective developmental impact, it must be presented in the language that the populace is most proficient in, usually the language(s) commonly spoken in day to day life. The language factor should therefore be recognized as a critical success factor in the deployment of ICTs for development, especially in the areas of education, health and governance. While Africa is home to a third of all the world's languages, the “information languages” on the continent are more often than not, European languages, namely English, French and Portuguese, which are by and large, languages of the educated elite. This has had the adverse effect of locking out a huge percentage of Africa's populace from effectively participating in the increasingly information-based economies. This paper discusses how language technology can be exploited to support the development of relevant local content that addresses and satisfies the multilingual requirements deriving from the continent's linguistic and cultural diversity, effectively reducing the language barrier to technology that exists especially among Africa's rural populations.
Owner: WanjikuAdded to JabRef: 2013.06.12