Into Africa: Languages and Emerging EconomiesThis article was originally published on the Acclaro blog.Category:    Global...
One of these, the East African Community, includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi andRwanda, who claim five official lan...
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Into africa languages and emerging economies

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Into africa languages and emerging economies

  1. 1. Into Africa: Languages and Emerging EconomiesThis article was originally published on the Acclaro blog.Category: Global Trends, International BusinessThe African continent is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world. According toWikipedia, over 2,000 languages have been identified among its 54 countries, with over 500languages actively spoken in Nigeria alone.Economically, as of 2008, the McKinsey Global Institute reports that the continent’s combinedGDP of $1.6 trillion is expected to surpass $2.5 trillion by 2020, with consumer spendingforecast at $1.4 trillion by the same year. Eightypercent of the continent’s GDP in 2005 was sharedbetween 15 of its countries, chiefly among naturalresources, commerce, farming, andtelecommunications. Private foreign capital spikeddramatically from $10 billion to almost $90 billionfrom 2003 to 2007.In addition, McKinsey suggests that “four groups ofindustries together will be worth $2.6 trillion inannual revenue by 2020. These are consumer-facingindustries (such as retail, telecommunications, andbanking); infrastructure-related industries;agriculture; and resources.”Being an emerging economy with a wealth of spoken languages, how does African commercecommunicate?All African countries, with the exception of Morocco, are part of the African Union (AU), anintergovernmental organization. Article 25 of the Union’s Constitutive Act lists six officiallanguages in total; Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Swahili. Other Africanlanguages are included on an ad-hoc basis, while and the AU’s sister organization, ACALAN, theAfrican Academy of Languages, focuses on the revalorization and empowerment of indigenouslanguages.The AU is further divided into regional groups within the African Economic Community (AEC).Page 1: Into Africa: Languages and Emerging Economies Copyright © Acclaro 2012
  2. 2. One of these, the East African Community, includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi andRwanda, who claim five official languages between them, including English and Swahili. Its 2004GDP, per the CIA World Factbook, is estimated at $104 million, with emerging businessstrengths in natural resources and financial services.The 15 member states of the Southern African Development Community, by contrast, claimed a2004 GDP of $737 million (GDPs quoted are PPP and not nominal). Countries in this regioninclude South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia. Working languages include English,French and Portuguese.Outside of the AU, Morocco’s official language may be Arabic but the language of business isFrench. In fact, France is the region’s largest trade partner. With an estimated 2010 GDP ofover $150 billion, mostly funneled into agriculture, natural resources, and tourism, it is the fifthlargest African economy by GDP.These African countries and their economic potential are just the tip of Mount Kilimanjaro.Potential foreign investors should, of course, understand African governmental politics inaddition to African language politics. A localization partner can help with the latter.With over 300 million new cell phones in service over the last decade, people on the Africancontinent are talking…are you part of the conversation?About Acclaro: Acclaro is an international translation and localization company thathelps the world’s leading brands succeed across cultures. We specialize in websitetranslation, marketing translations, document translation and software localization togive clients an authentic voice in key language markets. North America: 1-866-468-5106 Worldwide: +1-914-468-0222 www.acclaro.comsales@acclaro.comPage 2: Into Africa: Languages and Emerging Economies Copyright © Acclaro 2012

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