Language Observatory was invited to attend The First Pan African Cultural Congress
. The congress was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at African Union's head office.
African Union's Head Office Entrance
On the second day (November 14th) of the congress, the session on "Culture, Language and Education" was convened. In the session, the first presentor, Mr. Adama Samassekou, the president of the African Academy of languages (ACALAN), invited me to present a short report on our joint survey project "African Web Survey". I reported a brief summary of the survey. 54% of web-pages in African domains are written in English, 30% are in French, 4% are in Arabic, but only 0.5% are in African languages, etc.
African Union's Main Conference Room
After two initial presentations, the floors are invited to discuss. Although there are some optimism like "African children are now ready to go into cyberspace. The new generations of Africa are quite ready for ICT.", majority recognizes a serious need of actions to be taken. "an access to ICT should be democratized", "grass-root use of ICT is the key", "IPR does not belong to musicians, that's the problem", "heritage is our pride, we should create historical, cultural contents using our own languages", "negative attitude of intellectuals to our mother tongue is the major cause behind the problem", "why we don't teach university students by our own languages?", "while Holywood is totally digitized, our film makers are still using celluloid film", "there are no e-dictionaries of our languages, no virtual museum of our culture in cyberspace", etc.
One of the Bamako workshop participants in June 2006, Mr. Alfred Mtenje from Malawi, proposed two immediate actions.
1) To support creation of on-line African language courses and
2) To support "intellectualization of African languages" (to start and encourage the use of African languages beyond primary school level).
While majority of participants focuses cultural, social aspects of the issue and does not mention much about technology aspects, I hope that our report gave some impacts to consider "digital language divide" issue during the session.
|Adama Samassekou||Président, Académie Africaine des Langues, Mali|
|Mikami Yoshiki||Professor, Nagaoka University of Technology, Japan|
Leader, Language Observatory Project
|Tunde Adegbola||Executive Director, African Languages Technology Initiative (Alt-I), Nigeria|
|Marcel Diki-Kidiri||Chargé de Recherche, Laboratoire Langage Langues et Culture d’Afrique noire (LLACAN), France|
|Alfred Dailex Mtenje||Professor, University of Malawi Chancellor College, Malawi|
|Mamadou Lamine Sanogo||Chargé de Recherche, Institut des Sciences des Sociétés, Burkina Faso|
|Naomi Luchera Shitemi||Associate Professor, Moi University, Kenya|
|Thierry Afane-Otsaga||Enseignant-Chercheur, Université Omar Bongo, Gabon|
|Solomon Atnafu Basufekad||Assistant Professor, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia|
|Bechir Raddaoui||Ministry of Communication Technologies, Tunisia|
|Said Chemakh||Assistant-Teacher in linguistic, DLCA, Human Sciences and Languages School, University of Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria|
|Viola Krebs||IC Volunteers, Geneva|
|Virach Sornlertlamvanich||Co-director, Thai Computational Linguistics Laboratory (TCL), Thailand|
|Kodama Shigeaki||Researcher, Nagaoka University of Technology, Japan|
|Shiota Katsuhiko||Lecturer, Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Japan|
|Ikechkwu Anyanwu||President, Placade Japan|
Pariticipating African Countries
Language Observatory, African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) and Linguasphere Observatory have been collaborating on African Web Language Survey Project since Tunis phase of WSIS held in Tunis during 14-18 November 2005. It conincided with the launch of the African ICT Week initiated by African Union Commission.
Objectives of the project are:
- To get the most accurate language map of African cyberspace and the status of “digital divide” in African continent, and to raise public awareness of it
- To demonstrate the usefulness of multi-stakeholders’ collaboration under the umbrella of the World Network for Linguistic Diversity
Expected deliverables of the project are:
- Language Map of African Cyberspace (Cyberspace Language Census Report): To show how many pages are written in each language, in each country domain.
- Web Usage Maturity Analysis Report:
To show how web technology are used in each country domain.
For example, web links, web maintenance, server technology, open source software usage, etc.
- Web Infrastructure Report:
To show network performance and geographical locations of web servers.
|Date||Actions & Events
|2005/11/15||The Round Table organized by African Academy of Languages (ACALAN). The meeting was held as one of parallel events registered at World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), Tunis Phase. Members involved in this project first met and discussed the common interests.(see archive)
|2005/11/19||ACALAN, Linguasphere Observatory and Language Observatory had a meeting at Hotel Acropole, nearby the WSIS Conference Complex, to discuss about a joint action plan. (see archive)
|2006/02/11||The experimental survey draft of Cyberspace Language Census was circulated among the members for their review
|2006/02/21-24||The 7th International Mother Language Day cerebrated at UNESCO Headquarter, Paris. During this week members discussed the project and future action agenda. (see UNESCO Web News)
|2006/??||African Web Survey Workshop will be organized by members, hosted by ACALAN in Bamako, Mali. Several African eperts will be invited to join to the workshop to have a detailed discussion how to implement the survey.
|2006/11/14-20||2nd African ICT Week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During this event, the final reports of the project will be announced.
 Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing online
 African Union Commission's site on African ICT Week