What you need to know when localizing for Africa

From generational differences to regional pride, translating for Africa takes more than just words.

Text by Terena Bell


Image: © hadynyah/istockphoto.com

Exporters and trade experts often speak of Africa as though it was one country, not a continent. But Africa is not one single market, and if you localize for it as such, your marketing and sales initiatives may very well fall short. In Africa, more than 2,100 languages are spoken by 1.2 billion people who live in 54 different countries – numbers that make the localization work required to communicate pretty daunting. Financially, though, the effort’s worth it: In 2015, African consumers and businesses collectively spent more than US$ 4 trillion. By 2030, The Brookings Institute predicts this figure will rise to US$ 6.7 trillion. Today, the majority of companies operating on the continent are local: More than half belong to private, local shareholders and 17 percent are state-owned, leaving African markets open for non-domestic expansion.

So, when it comes to translation, where should ...