The Blog to Expand Your Knowledge of Africa


Report: The Need for Language Translation in Africa


For those interested specifically in the translation sector and its relationship with Africa, when we find news, reports or innovations we want to share them with you.

That’s why we wanted to point out a report from Common Sense Advisory published back in 2012. Although 2 years old, it does contain some great insights into translation and its practice across the continent.

The report looks at a number of topics including:

  • An overview of the main languages spoken and used in Africa
  • The state of the translation industry in terms of the supply chain – translators and linguists
  • Which countries demand the most in terms of language needs
  • The most common language combinations [see below]
  • The challenges facing translators and the sector alike
  • How translation impacts health and development work

Common Sense Advisory have made the report open to all so go grab a copy here: Common Sense Advisory Translation in Africa Report

Top 20 Language Combinations of African Language Translations (2012)

1 English into French
2 French into English
3 Afrikaans into English
4 English into Afrikaans
5 English into Swahili
6 Swahili into English
7 Arabic into English
8 English into Arabic
9 English into Zulu
10 Sesotho into English
11 Zulu into English
12 English into Sesotho
13 Xhosa into English
14 English into Xhosa
15 English into Yoruba
16 Amharic into English
17 Dutch into English
18 English into Sepedi
19 English into Setswana
20 English into Somali

Source: Common Sense Advisory, Inc.

From our recent experience much of this still stands true however there have been some dramatic changes over the past few years.

Portuguese (Brazilian & European), Turkish, Chinese, Japanese and Korean are now much more noticeable – a reflection perhaps of their growing importance in Africa though exporting. Afrikaans is probably a touch less in demand now as languages from markets such as Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Angola have increased.

Interesting times ahead!

Back to Blog