ARUSHA, Tanzania, February 22, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary General of the East African Community Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera this morning launched the Microsoft Office 2010 Kiswahili Local Language Pack, urging the Information Technology firm to work with governments in the region to increase investments in projects that will enhance the bloc’s economic growth.
At the ceremony held at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, Amb. Sezibera described the occasion as “yet another milestone in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector” and hailed Microsoft for taking a leading role in facilitating adoption of ICT and the general economic development of the East African Community.
The Secretary General commended Microsoft for recognizing the importance of Kiswahili language in communication and said “both Windows 7 and Office 2010 translations will go a long way in spurring growth of Kiswahili as a mode of communication in education, science and technology as well as government services”.
He affirmed that translating the Microsoft Office 2010 into a language that is familiar to the local citizens is a boost to regional development as more computer users will now participate in development discussions resulting in improving the effective delivery of public services for citizens; enhancing national and regional capacity to formulate and implement ICT policies; developing public sector-oriented ICT solutions as well as enhancing the use of technology to promote good governance and poverty reduction in the region.
The Secretary General disclosed that the ICT sector had driven up to 40% of economic growth in East Africa in the past 10 years and most of that growth had been in large companies. He noted that the next phase could be led by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), as long as the necessary and targeted policy interventions were made.
The Secretary General said there was urgent need for change, not only to maintain existing levels of education and training in the population, but also to develop the new skills and competences required if East Africa is to remain competitive and grasp new opportunities. He added that the region acknowledges ICT as a driver of economic growth although literacy levels were influencing its use.
“The development of the information society and the wide-spread diffusion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) give rise to new digital skills and competences that are necessary for employment, education and training, self-development and participation in society,” noted Amb. Sezibera.
Speaking at the launch, Microsoft’s Citizenship and Regional Education Manager for East and Southern Africa Dr. Mark Matunga said: “We believe technology has an increasingly important role to play in the maintenance of linguistic diversity, not only to promote mutual understanding and dialogue, but also to strengthen local economies.
“All too often communities are excluded from IT skills fluency, and the accompanying job opportunities, for lack of technology in their local language. Providing technology in a native language is critical to helping people access the tools they need to create better economic opportunities,” Dr. Matunga said.
Notes to Editors
The launch of the Microsoft Office 2010 Kiswahili Local Language Pack comes after the launch of the
Windows 7 Kiswahili Local Language Pack in Dar-es- Salaam in May last year by His Excellency President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. The availability of Office 2010 in Kiswahili will enable over 50 million speakers in East Africa and Central Africa to participate effectively in economic development through ICT.
With over 5 million native speakers and more than 50 million Africans speaking Kiswahili on a daily basis, Kiswahili is undoubtedly the most widely understood language in Africa after Arabic. The availability of Microsoft Office 2010 in Kiswahili is a remarkable step towards elimination of language as a barrier to technology access.
East African Community (EAC)