RE: 2007 - Year of Unicode in Africa?

From: Don Osborn (
Date: Sun Dec 24 2006 - 11:00:11 CST

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    A quick follow up - this suggestion could be misread as yet another
    implication that Africans are ignorant, which is not my thinking. Or more
    accurately one could say that Unicode in ICT is an area of ignorance that
    relates to an area of strength. Africa, in particular most of the continent
    south of the Sahara but indeed the whole continent, is a region of many
    languages and widespread multilingualism. Unicode should make it easier to
    do computing and internet in any and all of those languages.

    Year of Unicode in the US, for instance, might also be apropos, but then
    again a bigger issue there is probably ignorance of any language other than


    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: [] On
    > Behalf Of Don Osborn
    > Sent: Saturday, December 23, 2006 7:34 PM
    > To:;;
    > Subject: 2007 - Year of Unicode in Africa?
    > 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 releases.
    > * 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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