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Localisation in Africa

24.02.2007 - 27.02.2007 Marrakech, Morocco

Tactical Technology Collective (TTC) organized in Marrakech a Localisation Workshop for The International Development Research Centre (IDRC). This workshop was designed to bring together leading researchers and practitioners from across Africa (and a few countries outside the continent) to develop a joint research agenda to build a Pan-African Localisation Network. Participants were invited to contribute ideas and recommendations, present original research and projects, and discuss working together on a joint research and development programme.

The main objectives of the workshop were to:

1. Build a network of partners to conduct applied research on localisation issues in Africa

2. Design a research agenda for localisation in Africa that may include policy analysis and advice, standardization efforts, technical and practical concerns, etc.

3. Draft a proposal to IDRC for support of the network and research agenda;

4. Run a localization “blitz” to create a practical output useful for the PanAfrican Research on Localisation Network and its local partners.

Workshop Outcomes

During the workshop the group was able to:

Establish a working group

A working group was established to represent the larger network and agreed to lead a collaborative drafting process for a common proposal. Working group members are:

  • Central - Marcel Diki-Kidiri
  • Eastern - Solomon Atnafu
  • Northern - Manal Amin (in case Manal does not accept, Mouna will fill this role)
  • West - Paa Kwesi Imbeah
  • South - Dwayne Bailey

Increase understanding of challenges and limitations of localisation in Africa

Participants and organisers identified a number of challenges and opportunities that were not before apparent. In some cases, participants realised that they were working on similar issues and agreed to join forces. More visible however were the paramount challenges to designing and implementing a distributed research network for l10n issues in Africa.

Create stronger ties between existing organisations and projects / enabling future collaboration

Participants formed new relationships within the group, and are exploring collaboration through the network and also in sub-groups. Participants left with a very good understanding of the existing localisation landscape – people and projects -- in Africa.

Create a clustered map of ideas for research and projects

A comprehensive cluster map of localisation issues in the form of project and research ideas was developed. This map can serve as a starting point for the content design of a localisation network project in Africa. See the project website.


The blitz focused on the creation of locales (specific standardised information for each language that the software is localised in to, such as the format of the date, symbol for the currency etc) for OpenOffice.org. This was chosen as a task that could be accomplished in less then a day of work, but also a task that was rewarding and instructional.

Before the event participants were given small batches of tasks to do to gather information for the locales. During the event this data was captured using an onlines tool.

The blitz created locales for Ganda/Lungandan, Arabic (Morocco), English (Ghana) and Sango. It also created an awareness amongst all participants of the need for locales, the concept of locales, and the difficulty of gathering and validating data,

Next steps

The working group was formally tasked to lead a collaborative process to draft a common proposal for the network.

Secondly, the existing network members have agreed to consider additional organisations and individuals that should be invited to join at this point.

In addition, Tactical Tech is preparing a draft proposal outline that is based on the findings and impressions from the workshop for IDRC.

for more information see the project wiki for inquiries please contact l10nworkshop@gmail.com