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Community Projects 31 August 2016

Local Content in Local Languages Matters

Sub-Saharan Africa has seen great improvements in connectivity infrastructure and affordability in recent years. In particular, in some countries up to 90% or more of citizens have access to mobile Internet signals. In spite of this, Internet adoption is stagnating in many countries. The report “Promoting Content in Africa” poses that in order to spur growth, a greater emphasis on the demand for Internet connectivity is required. The report focusses on a number of issues which need to be addresses in order to facilitation content creation and availability, thereby improving the value of Internet connectivity to potential users in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Crucially, a greater focus on local language content is required, as many potential users do not have sufficient skills in popular online languages such as English and French, but do in local languages. Currently, there are very few websites in local languages, which leads to a vicious circle with little content creations in terms of websites, which attracts few users, which in turn is little incentive for further website content creation. When direct communication such as through social media, such as Facebook and Whatsapp, is concerned, uptake and local language usage is much greater.

National governments can fulfil a key role in stimulating local language content on the web, by leading by example and ensuring that content on government websites is also available in the recognised official local languages.

Additionally, monetisation of content is currently a severely limiting factor. There are significant barriers on the payments side, which prevent users from purchasing content. However, there are even greater barriers on the payout side, which prevent content creators from effectively monetising their content. This last limitation also applies to monetisation of content through advertising. In addition to this, advertising is hindered by a very limited support of local languages, which means that local language pages cannot be monetised.

Find out more about what you can do to promote local content.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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