You can make a difference with software

Translation into local African languages

Translation into local African languages

Today I had the pleasure to meet Emmanuel ‘Emma’ Oluka, a 27 yr. old developer living and working in Kampala. This application works to translate English into local African languages. He is currently focused on making the transition to Luganda. He has been working on the project for a month now and should be finished the coming weeks.

The original app came from some developers in Switzerland. They have been working to capture African content in local languages. They contacted AppAfrica to see if it was possible to complete some of the work here in the country.

Glossmaster is a multi-lingual terminology tool developed for ANLoc, the African Network for Localization. Language teams across Africa are using Glossmaster to build glossaries that will be used to create technology tools for Africans throughout the continent.

Glossmaster contains a core list of 2500 information technology terms that have been selected from a wide variety of software applications originally written in English. We have provided a definition for each term in English, as well as other information that will help clarify the underlying technical concepts.

Language teams use a straightforward interface to translate terms, provide definitions in their language, and add any supplementary information they think will be helpful. The interface supports the full range of Unicode fonts and works for languages written either left-to-right or right-to-left.

When all 2500 terms are completed for a language, the data will be imported to PALDO, the Pan African Living Dictionary Online, at The data will also be integrated with the Virtaal translation tool, and will be made available for other uses with a Creative Commons license.

The aim is to build a valuable resource local programmers can use when developing their own applications. You can find out more about the program on their website.

One of his most exciting projects he has worked on was an asset management system for WorldVision. This system worked to capture all of the assets within the organization and was used as a management tool within the organization. It was a project he worked on while part of the National Software Incubation Center at the Makerere University Faculty of Computing and ICT.

With a smile he tells me he was part of the first graduating class ever. He says it was a good program because, ‘It exposes us to different things. For example, I learned of AppAfrica at the Facebook Developers Garage organized on campus.’

Why did he choose for AppAfrica? He tells me he looked at the goals of the organization and immediately felt like this was a place where he could further develop his skills. Since his arrival he has worked on Question Box and the Translation Management App. Asked what he has planned for the long term, he responds, ‘I would like to start my own company. I would like to have software developers, web developers and technicians (networking, maintenance and PABX installation).’

One of the challenges moving forward is getting the capital needed to start the business. He says, ‘Here in Kampala it’s a little difficult. People are wary of start-ups because they don’t know what you can do. But this is one of the reasons I am here. It’s good to learn about these things.’ He also wants to develop his programming skills and show what he is capable of doing before he goes out into the market place.

Software development is a passion for him. He says, ‘You can make a difference with software. Even African’s can develop. We want to change the stereotype that software can only be developed in the Western world.’ Asked why people might think this way, he responds, ‘At a lot of places guys don’t have the chance to put their work out into the public. At least at AppAfrica I get the exposure I need.’

He goes on to say, ‘One of the biggest challenges is getting people to see what we are doing here. We have local guys who can do great things. This is often at a lower cost. Still, we haven’t gained a lot of ground locally and sometimes a lot of effort goes into a good app that is never used. Local companies just don’t believe local guys can make good stuff.’

He says that for now it’s important to focus on foreign projects but to keep programming apps for the local market on the side. When asked why he makes clear, ‘You have to believe that people are going to see what you are doing. With time they are going to trust local talent.’


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About zia505

The world is changing right before my eyes. Sometimes I don't know how I will ever keep up. There are so many ideas floating around on this internet. If only I had the means to collect them....

One response to “You can make a difference with software”

  1. Kevin says :

    Great post. Interesing information about You can make a difference

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