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Rwandan App Seeks to Teach African Languages through Crowd-Sourced Translation


Wow! Exciting news out of Rwanda! Jifunza, a local startup., is going to be launching a language learning app which will use crowd-sourced translations to help teach people African languages.

The game-based mobile app which is called Menya will work by providing users with templates to create lessons for users wanting to learn an African language or dialect.

The startup was one of the semi-finalists for this year’s edition of the PIVOT East conference to be held in Nairobi on June 24 and 25. In an interview with HumanIPO, Jifunza’s CEO, Yves Niyonshuti,  said the Menya app will essentially rely on its users to provide the translations and content. Given the large number of African languages they saw this as the only practical way of going about it.

Menya, meaning ‘knowledge’, is all about African languages,” Niyonshuti said.

“African culture is so complex and varied that crowdsourcing is the only viable way to build up a substantial and comprehensive representation of it. By using crowdsourcing, Menya is able to put fun educational content on an unlimited range of African languages and dialects in one place for travellers, parents, kids and lovers of culture to enjoy. The powerful thing about mobile technology is that it is not only a powerful way to deliver knowledge, but also collect knowledge. The smartphone has huge potential in Africa as a tool to collect and preserve knowledge.”

The app is currently under beta testing. At present it has over 30 African languages included in the app although details as to which languages is unavailable.

This is an amazing idea from Jifunza which has obvious connections with what we do – we wish them the best of luck and look forward to reporting on their future launch and success!

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