“Lack of access to information is life-threatening, threatens your ability to stay healthy, to access government services,”
Dwayne Bailey, of the African Network for Localisation (ANLoc), told the Internet governance forum.
He gave the example of vital health guidelines that South African authorities post on their websites in English “in the hope that most people will understand.”
“There are 2,000 languages spoken by a billion people in Africa.
There are 15 languages in Africa that have more than 10 million people each and almost none of those are present in any significant way in the information age,” Bailey said.
Multi-lingualism on the Internet was an imperative that had to be addressed, said the official from ANLoc, a project to empower Africans to participate in the digital age.
On Monday, cyberspace took a significant step towards internationalisation when the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened an application process to end the exclusive use of Latin characters for website addresses.
This year’s Internet Governance Forum in Egypt has brought together more than 1,500 representatives of government, advocacy groups, non-governmental organisations and the private sector to discuss the future of the Internet.