Re: IUC27 Unicode, Cultural Diversity, and Multilingual Computing / Africa is forgotten once again.

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Dec 08 2004 - 18:08:30 CST

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    Probably the first thing to do for Africa is to extend the support of softwares with localized contents that can ALREADY be performed with existing encoded scripts. But even there, software companies are not progressing much, even if this causes no technical problems with the existing Unicode repertoire (for example: Xholof, Yoruba, Kenyarwanda, ... and even Arabic, or already used Latin-based transliterations of these languages).

    If only such localisation efforts were made, there would exist business opportunities in Africa to support other native scripts as well. When you see that even the famous libraries in rich countries can't support the cost of maintaining their database or conserve so many books and arts, imagine what African countries can do when there's not even a version of Windows or Linux supporting these languages for the common user interface needed by everyone at the first basic stages of litteracy and computer knowledge.

    Thanks, Microsoft has now opened his system to African languages (it was waited since long). I won't blame the richest man on earth to give money to support litteracy and development of culture in Africa, as a fondamental step to the economic development of these areas, but also as a way to fight against ignorance which has caused so much damages in Africa (in terms of security with wars, abuses against children, in terms of freedom with conditions of women, or in terms of health with the tragic pandemies of A.I.D.S., tuberculose...).

    I really think that the conditions for the developement of Africa will come from education of Africa with tools and methods made for and by African users. But instead of only selling arms or giving military assistance, or giving food, we, in rich countries, should be able to promote donate to support education with the now very cheap technologies, and donations to cheap cultural programs such as the localization of softwares.

    There's no gain for now trying to sell costly solutions and overprotecting them for now in Africa (even if this means that we should tolerate software piracy in Africa, in order to let its population get their basic rights to knowledge). Whever these countries will choose Windows or Linux does not matter (I think that even promoting Linux usage in Africa would expand the market for proprietary softwares like Windows or Unix distributions; Africa is not Asia, and the conditions for a parallel development are still not there).

    So let's think about really getting out of our rich country ghettos, and give some efforts to organize technological events and meeting in places which are less costly for African communities. Some places are favorable, without major conflicts or security risks, with reasonnable equipments, and cumfortable accessibility by airlines: Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, South Africa), but also in the Middle-East (Arab Emirates, Oman?); it's probably too difficult to organize something for now in the currently unsecure Western Africa despite of its cultural interest (however West-African communities are extremely present in Europe).

    But more than temporary events, there's a need for a more permanent working group in this area. Why not seeking collaboration with the newcoming AfriNIC with its permanent bureaux in South Africa, Egypt and Mauricius?

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Azzedine Ait Khelifa
      Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2004 11:08 PM
      Subject: IUC27 Unicode, Cultural Diversity, and Multilingual Computing / Africa is forgotten once again.

      Hello All,

      The subject of this conference is really interesting and very usefull.
      But once again Africa is forgotten.

      I want to know, if we can have the same conference "Africa Oriented" scheduled ?
      If Not, What should we do to have this conference scheduled in a city accesible for african community (like Paris).

      Thank you all.


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