Microsoft launched Windows 7 in Swahili language yesterday, a move that is intended to allow over 150 million Kiswahili-speakers in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and parts of the Horn of Africa, Great Lakes, Malawi, Mozambique and the Indian Ocean access a broader range of its software programmes. The Swahili Windows and Office programmes are a product of two years of work by language experts from East and Central Africa who had to work on the standardisation of the language which is spoken in different dialects across the region.
The common glossary reached has some 650,000 words that have been translated for the Windows and Office programmes, while another 70,000 words have been translated for the help menus.
Microsoft says this software is intended to bridge a digital divide between developed and emerging markets arguing that in a region with few computer users and high illiteracy rates, the Swahili version of Windows will inspire East African governments to expand their IT economies, encourage literacy campaigns and attract more computer users.
Luis Otieno, the Microsoft General Manager for East and Southern Africa said during the launch in Nairobi, Kenya that ‘Over 150 million swahili speakers in Africa will now have access to technology in a language they understand better’ and that ‘This is a step towards maintaining the linguistic diversity of the world’s people’.
Director of Kenya Institute of Education Lydia Nzomo, said windows 7 in Kiswahili will offer children access to technology in a language they understand and this will help them learn computers faster.
Microsoft is also planning to launch Office 10 in Swahili soon.
Meanwhile online payment is set to broaden within east Africa following an announcement by an online payment platform provider, 3G Direct Pay, that will soon rollout partnerships with local companies to offer the service. This follows the realization that the future of payment systems is headed to the internet, as more people transact business on the World Wide Web, a means of trade commonly referred to as e-commerce.