It has been my honor and pleasure to lead the PanAfrican Localisation (PAL) project since its inception in 2005 (or really late 2004). This work builds on something begun almost 8 years ago when I was in Bamako, Mali. At the time I was thinking about ICT for development, which was getting to be a hot topic, doing some work related to agriculture and farmers who spoke mainly Bambara, and encountering some technical issues with use of Malian languages on computers that were similar to what I had dealt with 10 years earlier when working on a dictionary for Fulfulde of Mali. It was quickly apparent that while people were talking about ICT as making miracles for African agriculture, nothing on the internet was in the languages farmers used among themselves and in their communities, and there were some outstanding technical issues regarding use of some of these languages (that have extended orthographies) that no one was talking about.
IDRC support of the PAL project has facilitated networking of various efforts to localize ICT in African languages that have been emerging around the continent (and in the diaspora) over the last decade or so. It has also facilitated research on these efforts and the compilation of a web-based information resource that you are reading now. This particular phase, if you will, of the program is coming to a conclusion in March 2008, and will be followed by a new phase or project led by Dwayne Bailey.
At this time it is important to make sure that what has been accomplished with PAL will continue to serve African localisation and the new project. Transitions and sustainability are important as we are advancing a larger process that has great potential to support development, education, and the knowledge economy in Africa.
I look forward to working with you during the workshop and afterwards towards these ends.
PanAfrican Localisation project lead
PAL2 Workshop content organiser
Action plan / Plan d'action
Following the workshop and the various issues discussed in it I plan to (among other things):
- Work with workshop participants and others to develop the website into a sustainable resource
- Extending that work, collaborate with Dwayne on how to integrate or associate the new project's needs on the same domain
- Implement several suggestions re presentation and content