According to a report published by Internet World Stats, some 3.8 billion people do not have access to the internet. This represents almost 50 % of the world population. The lowest penetration rate, namely 31.2%, can be found in Africa.
Other key indicators show that by 2050, the total population of Africa will rise to around 2.5 billion, compared to 1.3 billion today. Despite the numbers and figures, there is incredible growth in African brands and products that are now entering global markets for the first time. Furthermore, Africa boasts with a rich artistic scene, and Africa’s youth is starting to embrace the connected lifestyle.
To provide the next generation with the necessary technology and digital knowledge, governments and organizations must actively contribute to the empowerment and economic growth of the African continent. Africa is set to burst with innovation, as start-ups get ready to engage hundreds of thousands of youth across more than 30 countries.
While surfing the Web for new stats on the subject, I came across a tweet announcing the winner of the 2017 “Young Entrepreneur of the year” prize, awarded by Simplon. The Simplon team opened several digital academies in South Africa, and is currently also involved in developing social programs through which they teach children and youth in South Africa and Senegal how to code.
AfricaCodeWeek equipped 1.3 million youth, across 35 African countries, with basic coding skills. Read more on this initiative on the official AfricaCodeWeek website.
Recently, numerous articles have mentioned the new generation of so-called “Made in Africa developers”, and just a few months ago Verone Mankou, who is originally from the Congo, received the 2017 “Young Entrepreneur of the year” award for creating indigenous mobile devices and tablets. Other similar initiatives include the Digify Africa program by Facebook.
Why is localization important in Africa?
The internet is undoubtedly gaining ground in Africa. Many initiatives have been created with support from organizations such as UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as 15 African governments, including over a 100 partners and ambassadors across the Continent. However, there is one important key that is still largely missing in some African countries: localization.
Africa is a hotbed of diversity. The Continent is home to between 1250 and 2100 indigenous languages. The speakers of these languages often have a hard time finding online products that they feel comfortable in buying. Companies therefore need to localize to avoid losing out when entering emerging markets.
According to research by Common Sense Advisory, 72.4% of consumers are likely to buy products featuring supplementary information in their own language. Localization seems to have great untapped potential in Africa in particular, since less than 5% of the Africans speak English as their first language.
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- [Statistics]. Internet World Stats. June 30, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2018
- [Made in Africa], Magazine de l’Afrique. February 7, 2017. Consulted January 20, 2018
- [Le créateur de téléphones portables et tablettes « Made in Africa » nommé jeune entrepreneur 2017], www.francophonieinnovation.org, December 22, Consulted January 20, 2018
- [Localisation & Digitisation in Africa] , Consulted January 20, 2018
- [Long-tail Localization for Africa: Challenging but Worth It] , Consulted January 20, 2018
- [The real Africa is not English, nor French, nor Portuguese] , Consulted January 20, 2018