The Digitalization of African Languages



Globalization and technology seem to go hand and hand as technology continues to grow and globalization making strides for a more inclusive and interconnected world the role of indigenous languages become even more important. Tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook are making waves in making African languages more accessible on the internet and helping towards reducing the dangers of most of the indigenous languages dying out. Over 25 percent all languages are spoken only in Africa with over 2,000 recognized languages spoken on the continent, and Nigeria alone has over 500 indigenous languages. The most common language spoken on the continent is Arabic (spoken by 170 million people), followed in popularity by English (130 million), Swahili (100), French (115), Berber (50), Hausa (50), Portuguese (20) and Spanish (10), according to an article by Action Institute.


There are four major language families indigenous to Africa: the Afro-Asiatic languages, a language family of about 240 languages and 285 million speakers; the Nilo-Saharan language family, consisting of more than a hundred languages spoken by 30 million people; the Niger–Congo language family, that covers much of Sub-Saharan Africa and is probably the largest language family in the world in terms of different languages; and the Khoisan languages, that number about fifty and are spoken in Southern Africa by approximately 120,000 people.