Computer Input Methods for African Languages

This project aims to create and promote the use of localized keyboards covering nineteen cross-border African language clusters.


Localized input methods for computers are the first technological hurdle in any
localization effort for a language. African languages have inconsistent and mostly
non-existent input method support on the three major operating systems—Microsoft
Windows, Apple Macintosh, and Linux. The aim of this project is to create a
representative keyboard layout for all the major cross-border language clusters and to
promote their availability and adoption by the relevant user communities and standards


The project consists of two components: a technical component and an advocacy
component. The former relates to the technical development of the keyboards. The
latter refers to the promotion of the keyboard and the garnering of acceptance by
various stakeholders across the continent.


Input method support will be developed with two dimensions in mind.
1. for the cross-border language clusters in Table 1.
Most African language orthographies are related to or derived from the
orthography of one of these clusters. Therefore by providing basic input method
support for each cluster we ensure that most African languages can be used on
computers without extra effort by interested end-users. Additionally, supporting a
general cluster (e.g. Akan) rather than a specific locale (e.g. Akan-Ghana)
provides a widely available basis for quickly deriving a locale-specific realization
of an input method where needed.
2. for each country.
A country localization will be created for each African country. This localization
will have no language support but instead will make available the currency and
other country-specific input method support.

The project will seek to deliver the following outcomes:
• Technology
- 20 language cluster locales input methods
- 52 country locales input methods

• Documentation
- A repository of keyboard layouts and related software.

• Availability
- Linux
- Windows
- Macintosh

• Advocacy
- Submission of Linux keyboard layouts to
We will endeavor to promote the keyboard input methods to the appropriate standards bodies for approval and integration where possible.

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