Last month’s issue of MultiLingual magazine focused on Africa and the continent’s growing role in the future of the world’s economy along with the growing need to focus translation and localization efforts there. All of this piqued our interest. If you haven’t looked at Africa for your localization strategy, you might want to start.
Africa’s Population by the Numbers
- 53 countries
- 2,000+ languages spoken
- 10 percent of the world’s total population
- 40 percent of the total population is under age 15
- 20 percent of the total population is between ages 15-24
- 1.1 billion is the estimated population of Africa’s middle class by 2060. (According to Deloitte, this is the fastest growing middle class in the world.)
With a population that is young and growing comes an economy that is growing along with it. Recently, the BRICs became the BRICS with the addition of South Africa to the acronym. BRICS has become synonymous with the fastest growing world economies. Nigeria’s economy is also one of the continent’s strongest.
With greater income comes greater consumption, and as we’ve previously emphasized, consumers are more likely to purchase products or services that are presented to them in a way that they will understand. The way to make this happen is to translate and localize!
One of the biggest challenges is the number of languages spoken in Africa. As we mentioned before, there are over 2,000. Where do you start? In their article “Localization for the long tail in Africa,” featured in MultiLingual magazine, authors David Filip and Jeama Musse Jama present a list of 29 priority languages compiled by Michigan State University with recent additions. We also recommend taking a look at the Ethnologue website as a reference.
As mentioned before, Africa’s middle class is the fastest growing in the world. The Deloitte study found a direct correlation between “mobile phone uptake and socio-economic development.” Therefore, you should make sure that your localized website is mobile-friendly. Also, make sure that you allow for e-payments on your website as well as shipping options for African countries. Advertising spending in Africa is also up, according to Nielsen’s “Global Adview Pulse.” Localized and engaging marketing content will go a long way in reaching out to an African audience.
Localizing does not come without its challenges, of course. As mentioned, the linguistic diversity is a big obstacle. Africa is a country full of tradition, cultural, and regional diversity, so a “one-size-fits-all” approach will not work. The best way to accommodate this diversity is to work with linguists who live in Africa and are familiar with the cultures and mores.
As you look to take your brand into Africa, it is important to do some research on your target market and decide where you want to focus on this vast, diverse continent. There is great opportunity for growth, and as an LSP, we’d like to help you grow.