The African continent is attracting the attention of foreign investors, and with the growing need for translators, translation company owners observe that this is high time to conduct business in the region
More Translation companies are needed that focus on the regional languages of Africa in order to bridge the language gaps between the common African man and the foreign entrepreneurs. The translation companies have so far ignored the demand for translation services in the regional languages, which is the growing need of the times. Such companies are needed in East Africa, mostly where Swahili speaking tribes live.
According to a UNESCO policy brief on African languages, there are more than 2000 languages spoken in Africa, which are divided into 6 major families. These are Afro-Asiatic, Niger-Congo B (Bantu), Nilo-Saharan, Khoi-san, Niger-Congo A and Austronesian. In this Continent with a population of 10 billion; Amharic, Berber, Hausa, Igbo, Oromo, Swahili and Yoruba are some of the regional languages which are spoken by tens of millions of people. When asked from a fisherman in Ghana, he complained of the language barriers the local population faces when any new foreign company brings business in the country.
“Often the foreign investors set up their businesses here, but we don’t get to know anything about their products. The products are not advertised in the regional languages, leaving most of the people clueless about how to use them and why.”
This problem can only be solved by setting up translation services in the regional languages as well.
“The advantage of owning a translation company is that you are never out of business. Every person, no matter what his occupation, requires something to be translated for him, once in a while.”
says Carlo Cristofori, an experienced Italian translator, who worked for EU for many years.
So the investment prospects for translation companies are very bright in Africa. For now, they are catering the needs of only a few selected people and only on governmental level, that is for the government agencies when meeting foreign investors. The international translation service companies are only focusing on translators required in the official meetings. Apart from Arabic, French, and Portuguese translators, African countries need more translators in the region to translate regional languages like the Bantu language family and Swahili amongst a few others. The official languages, dating back from the colonial era, are spoken and understood only by a selective class. It is important to reach out to the common African man, and prepare him for the change the Continent is being subjected to.
A positive change in society, that leaves out the better half of the population, cannot be termed as a good change. Change for a chosen few is not our aim. We are aiming at a change which is for all and sundry and minimizing language barriers is the first step towards shaping a harmonized society, offering equal opportunities to everyone, without taking advantage of their ignorance.