Microsoft to Launch Applications in Three Nigerian Languages

HANA, 8 April 2008. 

Microsoft Corporation plans to include Nigeria's dominant languages -Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo in the Microsoft Office application suite before year- end.

MS Office is a group of applications consisting of Word, a word processing application; Powerpoint, used for presentations; Excel, a spreadsheet application, and Access, an application used for databases. By the inclusion of the indigenous languages, users of the applications will be able to see them displayed in their preferred languages and commands can be given and received in any of the local languages. Citizenship Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Mrs. Jummai Ajijola, said in an interview in Lagos that the project?which was designed to bring technology closer to people on the Africa continent.-- was at an advanced stage. She added that the project was part of a bigger scheme by Microsoft to include African languages in its applications so that more people could use technology in their local languages. Ajijola said eight African languages were involved in the entire project including Kiswahili, Wollof, Amharic and the three Nigerian languages. She said the drive for the project was based on the need to make technology available to people by removing the language barrier. "You do not have to speak English for you to be able to access technology. We can make it available to you whatever language you speak, so there can be more users of technology," she said. The project, Ajijola said, involved massive language translation work in collaboration with individuals and groups in the educational and IT sectors. The main translation was being undertaken by Dr. Tunde Adegbola of Lyder in Ibadan Oyo State, while the initial works were done by a number of professors at the University of Lagos. Softworks Nigeria Limited, a local IT firm, also played a leading role in bringing the experts together. Ajijola said a massive awareness campaign would be embarked upon by Microsoft to make people know about the work, while the inauguration of the project would be aimed at the rural populace by involving traditional rulers across the country. She noted that this was because the traditional rulers were the ones closer to the people, adding that the scheme would be implemented as a corporate social responsibility. Ajijola said the programme could also include the Fulani language in the future as it was being spoken in a number of West African and Central African countries. Many Microsoft applications are currently available in several of the world's languages with African languages being among the last to be included. But the development seemed to further reflect the increasing competition among major IT firms to make their products have the widest reach as possible. In 2006 Google announced the inclusion of the Yoruba language as an option for use in its search engine.

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