Software Localization in Africa

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In computing, localization is a means of adapting computer software to different languages and regional differences by adding locale-specific components and translating text.

Translations work best when the person has cultural context to allow for slang or idiomatic expressions and language structures that are difficult to build into machine language, that’s why, whenever we think about technology and Africa, the importance of localization really sticks out.

Africa is home to about 2,000 languages, equivalent to one-third of the world’s living languages. 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.

The links between the software industry and localization are strong and the commercial potential of developing software using African languages is enormous. The key is to bring software developers, linguists, and policymakers together to turn this into a viable and thriving sector, creating jobs, enabling millions of Africans to join the information and knowledge society, and ultimately contribute towards economic growth.

How does software localization differ from traditional document translation?

Software localization is the translation and adaptation of a software or web product, including the software itself and all related product documentation. Traditional translation is typically an activity performed after the source document has been finalized.

Translation is only one of the activities in a localization project – there are other tasks involved such as project management, software engineering, testing and desktop publishing. A software product that has been localized properly has the look and feel of a product originally written and designed for the target market.

A number of points have to be considered, as well as the language, in order to effectively localize a software product or website: measuring units, number formats, address formats, time and date formats (long and short), paper sizes, fonts, default font selection, case differences, character sets, sorting, word separation and hyphenation, local regulations, copyright issues, data protection, payment methods, currency conversion, taxes.

At Language Inc. our focus is the provision of custom-made language solutions to fit our clients’ needs. When it comes to software localization, we will make sure that all the above mentioned is addressed, and that your product is completely applicable to a country other than the one it was originally created for.

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