Sub-Saharan Africa/en

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Select Sub-Saharan African languages and their Wikipedias

Major Sub-Saharan African languages and their Wikipedias

Wiki code Language Primary Country Number of speakers (Millions) Potential Users (Thousands) Number of articles (7-09) # of articles >1500 bytes (7-09) Articles, 1 year growth rate (5/08-5/09) # of 5+editors (5-09) 5+ editors, 1 year growth rate (5/08-5/09) 5+ editors,2 year growth rate (5/07-5/09) Article to editor ratio
ha Hausa Nigeria *40 1,600 131 35 12% 10 100% 400% 13
sw Swahili Tanzania 31 1,240 12,555 1,256 58% 38 46% 138% 330
zu Zulu South Africa *25 1,012 186 4 6% 7 -13% 0% 27
am Amharic Ethiopia *22 860 3,342 100 7% 23 28% 130% 145
yo Yoruba Nigeria *21 856 6,264 2,067 5% 21 31% 200% 298
ig Igbo Nigeria 18 720 570 23 4% 15 114% 275% 38
mg Malagasy Madagascar 15 588 1,518 106 147% 21 75% 320% 72
so Somali Somalia 14 556 585 76 31% 17 42% 89% 34
sn Shona Zimbabwe *13 504 40 6 3% 0 -100% N/A N/A
ff Fulah Senegal 12 492 47 2 357% 7 17% 600% 7
kg Kongo Democratic Republic of the Congo 11 440 569 11 31% 13 63% 117% 44
ln Lingala Congo 9 360 1,147 57 10% 19 58% 111% 60
Smaller Sub-Saharan African Languages with Wikipedias of more than 500 Articles
af Afrikaans South Africa 6.1 196 12,866 4,374 24% 63 47% 31% 204
wo Wolof Senegal 4 160 967 116 45% 18 50% 800% 54
*Includes second language speakers

[1]

Sub-Saharan African languages

  • There are over 230 million speakers of the 12 major Sub-Saharan African languages listed, comprising 28% of the population.
  • All of the 15 languages listed are official languages of one or more Sub-Saharan African country or state. There are newspapers printed in all of the languages except for Shona
  • Most of these languages have existed as written languages for a very short period of time and are not the primary languages of communication amongst the well educated. Therefore, these languages have a very limited literature.
  • There are many other languages spoken in Sub-Saharan Africa, these 12 were chosen due to their large number of speakers, status as official languages and existence of Wikipedias in these languages

Sub-Saharan African languages and education

  • All of the languages listed are used as mediums of instruction at the elementary school levels in different states and countries in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Some of these languages are also taught at the secondary level in some localities.
  • The former colonial languages are the primary languages for higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Internet penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Despite the large number of speakers of several of these languages, most people lack access to computers and the Internet, with Internet use rates of 4% of the population for the region as a whole. Additionally, most people in Sub-Saharan Africa with Internet access use colonial languages as their primary language for written communication.[2]
  • Mobile phone penetration is significantly more widespread than Internet penetration. Additionally, some countries have built up 3G networks enabling people to access the Internet via their phone [3]

Sub-Saharan African language Wikipedias

  • Growth of sub-Saharan African language Wikipedias has generally been very slow. To date only three Wikipedias, Swahili, Yoruba, and Afrikaans, have more than 5000 articles.
  • Many Sub-Saharan African language Wikipedias have shown almost no growth. There are 13 Wikipedias of sub-Saharan African languages with more than 3 million speakers that have less than 500 articles
  • Most African language Wikipedias lack tools and support structures such as templates, info boxes and village pumps that support editing[4]


Amongst Sub-Saharan African language Wikipedias, only Swahili and Afrikaans have shown steady growth

A few Sub-Saharan African language Wikipedias have shown steady growth


Most Sub-Saharan African language Wikipedias have shown minimal growth

Most Sub-Saharan African language Wikipedias have shown minimal growth

Few Sub-Saharan language Wikipedias have many articles greater then 1.5Kb

Few Sub-Saharan language Wikipedias have many articles greater then 1.5Kb

Barriers to the growth of Sub-Saharan African language Wikipedias

  • Lack of source materials in African languages
  • Lack of Internet access amongst people who use African native languages as their primary written language
  • Lack of Wikipedia tools to facilitate editing in African languages and a lack of editors who have the technical skills to address problems and fix bugs
  • Lack of time to devote to Wikipedia projects amongst people in Africa who have Internet access
  • Prestige of former colonial languages (mostly English, French, Portuguese, including for religious purposes in Christian communities), or Arabic (for religious purposes in countries where Islam dominates or takes a significant share), and illiteracy in the vernacular
  • Until September 2009, poor connections between Africa and the Internet. [5]

Notes

  1. Information on languages from Ethnologue 2009 http://www.ethnologue.com Potential users is calculated by multiplying the number of language speakers by the national or regional Internet use rate. Internet use rates from from the International Telecom Union 2008
  2. Information on Internet use from International Telecommunications Union 2008 /
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/science/06uganda.html?_r=2&hpw
  4. see comment on sub-Saharan Africa regional analysis talk page Talk:Reach/Regional_Analysis/Sub-Saharan_Africa
  5. BBC retrieved 2nd Oct 2009