Published on Nasikiliza

Young Africans leading the way in tech

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Yes, Your Cellphone Speaks Dialect!
Africa is home to over 2000 native languages, boasting what some call the highest linguistic diversity.  Unfortunately, growing up in the Diaspora did not give me access to the language exchange that happens in our multilingual continent. Ironically enough, I can navigate French with no problem, but cannot even offer a proper local salutation to most of my fellow Africans.

For the sake of cultural connection or just practicality, it is always useful to have a few languages up your sleeve while visiting the continent. Fortunately, two young Zambian developers have invented a mobile app called Bantu Babel that translates English into Zambian dialects with more African languages to follow. This app is already being used by the U.S. Peace Corps and across the continent.

Like the young man in the video, I was excited to see that this application was developed in Zambia, a country that’s not often associated with technological innovations. For me, this shed light on how widely Africa’s tech scene is spreading. I’m especially pleased to see that since the publishing of the video, the Bantu Babel application has increased its translations and survival phrases from seven to nine languages.

I downloaded the app for free on Google Play. Not even Google Translate has the languages offered on this user friendly app! Needless to say, young Africans are leading the way in tech.

A job well done to the young hackers in Lusaka, or as one would say in Tonga, Mwaciita kabotu!

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