Is Africa part of your localization strategy yet?


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If you haven’t yet thought to include Africa in your localization strategy, you may want to start thinking about it—and soon.

Africa is without a doubt one of the fastest and most powerful emerging markets in the world. The vastness and complexity of this continent alone make it worthy of scrutiny by world economists and global companies alike. Here’s a mere glimmer of the reasons behind this:

10 of the world’s 15 fastest-growing economies are in African countries. South Africa recently claimed a spot (and an initial) in BRICS, becoming part of the representative group for emerging markets. More Africans than ever are also accessing the web on mobile devices.

In short, the unprecedented economic growth in Africa has created incredible demand for translation into many of the extant 2,000 African languages. Let’s explore some significant economic trends in this part of the world—and what they mean for your localization strategy.

Younger and more affluent customers

A fast-rising population means a plethora of younger people. At the same time, personal income levels have been steadily increasing as well. Around 150 million Africans have made their way into the middle class since 1990, with another 40 million households to join the middle class ranks by 2015.

Africa is also the most rapidly urbanizing continent, with a third of its people living in cities. The World Bank predicts that in ten years, half of its 1.2 billion inhabitants will be urban dwellers.

This likely means a greater number of consumers with more disposable income, most of whom will expect to see websites and other information in their preferred languages. For these reasons, adding new African languages as part of your localization strategy may prove highly beneficial.

Boom in mobile signals localization needs

The Asia-Pacific region isn’t the only part of the world seeing quickly mounting numbers of mobile subscribers.

More Africans than ever are becoming reliant upon technology, and mobile devices are a huge part of that. In fact, Africa is the fastest growing region for mobiles in the world. By the end of 2010, there were about 500 million mobile subscribers in Africa. That number is expected to reach 800 million by 2015. Nigeria is the tenth largest mobile market globally.

As a result, there’s been a surge in mobile e-commerce and m-learning (engaging in educational activities through mobile devices). People are using their phones and devices to browse products, make payments and learn, all online.

In addition, Africa’s information and communications technology market is expected to grow from $8.5 billion to $12.5 billion by 2015.

Depending on your particular business, these trends and data points open a window into a few opportunities:
?Create a version of your global website for key markets in African countries while ensuring it’s mobile friendly
?Enable capabilities for e-payments
?Tie certain African regions into your multilingual SEO outlook as part of your marketing localization strategy, keying into impactful keywords
?Make available engaging marketing content in digital form that will resonate with African audiences

Growing healthcare and life sciences needs

A rising middle class, rapid urbanization and fast economic growth also play an important role in another sector that’s increasingly vital in Africa: life sciences and healthcare.

In a recent article, Sumesh Rahavendra, head of marketing for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa comments:

“While Sub-Saharan Africa comprises 12 percent of the global population, the region comprises 24 percent of the global healthcare burden. Companies are increasingly turning to Africa due to the opportunities that the continent offers, as it is one of the few locations that can still obtain double digit economic growth.”

As they look to this region, life sciences companies should be aware of increasing regulatory demands and product requirements specific to African nations—as well as rising opportunities for business growth.

African markets: Connecting the dots

Africa is a diverse continent in many ways. With 53 countries and a vast number of languages—Nigeria alone has more than 500—it can be a challenge to navigate when charting your localization strategy without a partner.

We’ve helped several companies take their brand into African territory. If you’d like to discuss with us your own goals and plans for this burgeoning region, please let us know how we can assist.
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Rachel Chilson
Rachel is a marketing communications coordinator at Sajan, a world-recognized language translation services provider. Sign up for Sajan Blog posts to receive new translation best practices every week.


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