“Access to information is a basic human right,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, according to the World Bank Institute, at a conference on the subject last year in Accra, Ghana. Information is also power, and more and more organizations are recognizing that it will play an essential role in Africa’s future. Having access to information enables people to do things like take care of their health, understand their rights, start businesses, and participate in political processes.
When it comes to information access, most of the discussions are about the delivery systems such as mobile phones, which in many parts of Africa are the computing devices of choice. Obviously, getting information into people’s hands is critical. But what good is it if they cannot understand that information once they receive it? Africa is home to more than 2,000 different languages spread across six major language families – Nigeria alone has more than 500 tongues spoken within its borders. Some of them – such as Amharic, Berber, Hausa, Igbo, Oromo, Swahili, and Yoruba – are used by tens of millions of people.
By Nataly Kelly