2007 - Year of Unicode in Africa?

From: Don Osborn (dzo@bisharat.net)
Date: Sat Dec 23 2006 - 18:33:54 CST

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    In these waning days of 2006 I'm considering proposing an informal "Year of
    Unicode in Africa" in 2007. Apart from the presumptuousness of the idea, I
    see several advantages:

    * 2006 was the Year of African Languages, and rather than let the issue of
    languages drop, one idea would be to follow up with a practical theme that
    is relevant to African languages. Unicode in theory has significant
    advantages for multilingual Africa, aside from being the international
    standard for character encoding.
    * There seems to be a need for better understanding of Unicode - what it is
    and what it can do - among computer technicians and people involved in
    working with languages of Africa
    * There is certainly also a need to discuss various aspects of Unicode and
    African languages (e.g., resources for encoding several minority scripts)
    * I'm aware of a couple of workshops that will deal in part with training
    about Unicode in 2007. Such efforts and others could be associated with a
    "Year of Unicode in Africa" at no expense and to the publicity benefit of
    each and all
    * This could also serve to spotlight various activities already underway
    relating to Unicode in Africa
    * Naming a year as such might give some of us (or at least me) the incentive
    to try to arrange either something along the lines of the "roadshow" that
    has been discussed in the past or, more modestly, some presentations about
    Unicode at selected ICT events in Africa.
    * Various organizations could be invited to "sign on" - again with no cost -
    but still lending the idea more credibility and a higher profile.
    * Approaches could be made to various African press organizations via press
    * Etc.

    It would help to have feedback and expressions of interest. If it is a "go,"
    the idea could take form in relatively short order, and can remain very
    light in terms of infrastructure. A few activists, a sharable logo, and good
    communication are the basic minimum. At little cost or risk, there could be
    a potential to significantly raise awareness on this subject. Or maybe not.
    But another year of business as usual definitely won't do it.

    Best wishes to all for the holiday season!

    Don Osborn
    PanAfrican Localisation project

    [apologies for the crosspostings!]

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