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Finding French language ICT resources remains challenging

September 23, 2011  »  WebOne Comment

Generally speaking, Francophone African nations face an extra challenge in communicating developments to the global community. That challenge is the language barrier. If a company in Burkina Faso issues a press release touting 3G Internet, for example, the momentum of knowledge transfer may slow down outside the nation, and especially beyond the Francophone community. After all, English is the de facto language of the Internet. Local content is certainly bridging the gap (and more French speakers in Africa are coming online as growth in those countries speeds up), but it will still be years until non-English languages have a major presence in Africa.

francophone africa map

{Wikimedia Commons}

One of this site’s goals is to better relay Internet progress in under-represented nations. Many such nations widely communicate in French and so little information is available in English if an international media outlet lacks a strong presence. Although French is the official language in 22 African nations and will be spoken by an estimated 700 million Africans by the year 2050, much international ICT work is conducted in English. Other languages are certainly represented, but it becomes difficult to find the time to monitor all of these niche resources. African bloggers are an invaluable resource to those interested in following economic and technological development, but again, there are only so many hours in the day to read their insights.

From our experience, there are a few notable aggregator-type websites with a fair share of Francophone African tech news. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Jeune Afrique: A Pan-African magazine with a robust sciences and technology section. Not as focused as a smaller publication, but still worth a weekly read.
  • Aggregates stories published on other sites. Currently has articles on Orange Guinea, 4G in Cameroon, and more.
  • Afrique Avenir: A variety of articles, generally about economics. Tech comes up every so often.
  • Afrique en ligne: Posts press releases and stories from other sources. However, news from nearly every country in Africa seems to find its way here.
  • Google Alerts: Perhaps the most efficient way to easily find news in a non-native language. Simply figure out the keywords you wish to follow (ie. “africa haut débit” for “africa broadband”) and check your feed.
  • Of course understanding the language would not be possible without the invaluable Google Translate. Translating common technological terms (ie. débit for broadband) and using them in a news search can find numerous articles only published in French.

National telecommunications organization sites are also useful as well. For example, Portail TIC et Développement au Burkina tends to have interesting updates. Blogs are excellent too, but are often biased and pose challenges to non-native speakers who must interpret a machine translation.

Portuguese and other languages (Swahili, Amharic, etc.) are less commonly spoken than French, but are still critical to understanding the whole African economic growth picture. Again, Google Alerts are a great tool – just translate the keywords, set the alert, and check your feed every day.

We would love to hear how you follow non-English ICT news in Africa. Leave your favorite non-English resources for African tech insight in the comments!