Working with Microsoft on real-time global communication

In its stated mission to promote a world where knowledge knows no language barriers, Translators without Borders (TWB) has taken another major step forward, working with Microsoft to launch Kiswahili (also known as Swahili) translation through Microsoft Translator. This is welcome news for the estimated 150 million Kiswahili speakers throughout East Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kiswahili is the first African language to be added to the automatic translation service.

Launched in Nairobi, Kenya in October 2015 by Microsoft, Kiswahili text translation runs on Microsoft cloud services and has been integrated across Microsoft’s product range, including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Translator apps (Windows, Android and iOS), and Cortana, among others. This effectively means that users can translate text into and out of the Kiswahili language anywhere and at any time. Kiswahili is also now available as an instant messaging language on Skype for Windows Desktop ( for real-time global communication.

“Government bodies and NGOs in Kiswahili-speaking countries can now produce documents and information at virtually no cost and communicate rapidly with local communities,” explains Will Lewis, Principal Technical Program Manager, Microsoft Machine Translation and Skype Translator. “They, businesses and private individuals can all benefit, as communications difficulties between Kiswahili and non-Kiswahili speakers become a thing of the past.”

“Working with Translators without Borders on this ground-breaking initiative has been very satisfying,” Lewis adds. “Our mission at Microsoft, as the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, is to empower every person and every organization on the planet, so we wholeheartedly support TWB’s humanitarian goals.”

Written by Sarah Powell

Interviewee: Will Lewis, Principal Technical Program Manager, Microsoft Machine Translation and Skype Translator

by Sarah Powell