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Wikipedia still needs more African editors

March 28, 2012  »  Statistics & WebOne Comment

Last year, we posted Wikipedia language data with the comment that more editors are needed for non-English language. What has changed in the past 14 months? A Wikipedia Stats page, when filtered by languages spoken in Africa, provides the number of speakers, editors, number of articles, and usage of this content.

Well, there are still fewer than 1,000 pages in Hausa for an estimated 39 million speakers to access! The most obvious trend is the lack of content for languages other than English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic. In fact, 24 of the 41 languages spoken in Africa with greater than 1 million speakers worldwide have fewer than 1,000 Wikipedia articles. What’s more, the content is hardly accessed – these pages only receive 50 or so views per hour.

In terms of absolute number of pages, the African language ranking goes:

  • Yoruba (29,854)
  • Malagasy (28,169)
  • Swahili (22,749)
  • Afrikaans (20,489)
  • Amharic (11,494)

But, as TechLoy notes, the Yoruba language, although boasting claim to the most Wikipedia pages of any African language, contains many pages created by bots.

Comparing data from December 2011 with numbers from October 2010, we find that more editors are needed for 42 languages spoken in Africa. Although many languages now have better representation in the encyclopedia, they still lack substantial depth. In many cases, there are only a handful of editors for a language that is spoken by millions of people – people who very well have Internet access. The troubling trend is that the growth in number of editors lags the annual Internet adoption rates in many of the countries were these languages are spoken. Perhaps users are happy to use French, English, or Arabic, but either way, the prevalence of African languages on Wikipedia is conspicuously low.

The data is limited to languages with more than 875,000 global speakers. Only Wikipedias which contain 10 or more articles and which received 10 or more edits in last month are listed. Not included are Afarhz, Herero, Kanuri, and Ndonga.


  • The number of editors per million speakers remained unchanged for the vast majority of the 42 languages
  • Zulu and Siswati both lost their sole editor
  • Amharic dropped from having 0.3 editors per million speakers to only 0.2
  • The number of Somali editors grew by 20% (added 1 or 2 editors)
  • The number of Yoruba editors went from 5 to 10 (0.2 per million speakers)

Article views

  • Median growth of 31%
  • Strongest growth in visits from Shona (388%), Kinyarwanda (315%), Malagasy (169%)
  • Also >100% growth for Amharic, Igbo and Ganda language views
  • Negative growth for Kikuyu (-32%), Ewe (-5%), Tsonga (-5%)


  • All languages spoken in Africa show positive article growth
  • Median growth of 33%
  • Correlates with article views (above)
  • Strongest growth: Shona (1,588%), Kinyarwanda (1,237%), Malagasy (980%)
  • Also >100% growth from Twi, Fulfulde, Ganda, Setswana, Tumbuka languages
  • Lowest growth from Igbo (4%), followed by Kikuyu (5%), Wolof (6%), Swahili (8%)

Wikipedia Data (2011 vs 2010)

LanguageSpeakers (Prim + Sec)Editors per million speakers (14 mo % change)Views/hr (14 mo % change)Articles (14 mo % change)
English1500 M-4%6%12%
Simple English1500 M0%65%16%
Arabic530 M0%29%20%
Spanish500 M0%-8%28%
Portuguese290 M-17%-12%15%
French200 M0%18%16%
Egyptian Arabic76 M0%60%22%
Swahili50 M0%33%8%
Hausa39 M0%30%101%
Zulu26 M-100%13%30%
Oromo26 M0%49%24%
Lingala25 M0%24%40%
Yoruba25 M100%141%193%
Amharic25 M-33%113%108%
Igbo22 M0%117%4%
Malagasy20 M0%169%980%
Akan19 M0%15%41%
Twi15 M0%38%113%
Somali14 M20%67%67%
Fulfulde13 M0%69%133%
Afrikaans13 M0%58%25%
Kinyarwanda12 M0%315%1237%
Ganda10 M0%121%196%
Chichewa9 M0%89%80%
Kabyle8 M0%20%33%
Xhosa8 M0%0%15%
Kongo7 M0%4%12%
Shona7 M0%388%1588%
Tigrinya7 M0%40%72%
Bambara6 M0%3%15%
Kikuyu5 M0%-32%5%
Sesotho5 M0%14%27%
Kirundi5 M0%88%99%
Setswana4 M0%31%341%
Northern Sotho4 M#N/A#N/A#N/A
Wolof4 M0%0%6%
Ewe4 M0%-5%13%
Tsonga3 M0%-5%20%
Siswati3 M-100%35%44%
Sangro3 M0%9%40%
Tumbuka2 M0%70%112%
Venda875 k0%4%46%