Afrigen is a part of a greater Localization effort in Africa called ANLoc, the African Network for Localization. In a nutshell, the goal of Afrigen is to create locales for 100 African languages within 12 months time. Today, only 36 of Africa's 2000 languages have their own locales.

Why a Locale?

The first step for any localization project is to ensure that all users and computer systems can identify underlying language and country parameters. A locale is a master file that can be used across applications to specify meta-data for each language/ country pair. Data include language information such as how to express dates and Unicode font support, as well as country information such as currency names and symbols. When a locale is implemented properly, documents can be identified by language of origin, facilitating features such as search, spell-checking, and application-specific user options. Having a completed locale for a language is fundamental for the success of all future localization activities for that language.

How will the locales be spread?

All locales will be submitted to the following software and standards bodies:
  • CLDR/Unicode
  • OpenOffice
  • GNU C Library

CLDR is a project within Unicode. Submission to CLDR will hence lead to locales being incorporated into the Unicode library of locales which is used by a wide spectrum of applications. Companies and organizations that directly or indirectly use the locale repository of CLDR include:

Adobe, Apple (Mac OS X), abas Software, Ascential Software, Avaya, BEA, BluePhoenix Solutions, BMC Software (Remedy), Business Objects, caris, CERN, ClearCommerce, Cognos, Debian Linux, D programming language, Gentoo Linux, GNU Classpath, HP, Hyperion, IBM, Inktomi, Innodata Isogen, Isogon, Informatica, Intel, Interlogics, IONA, IXOS, Macromedia, Mathworks, Language Analysis Systems, Lawson Software, Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping LLC, Mandrake Linux, Novell (SuSE), Optio Software, PayPal, Progress Software, Python, QNX, Quark, Rogue Wave, SAP, Siebel, SIL, SPSS, Software AG, Sun Microsystems (Solaris, Java), Sybase, Teradata (NCR), Trados, Trend Micro, Virage, webMethods, WMS Gaming, Xerox and Yahoo!.

The locale files are used in the open source multi-platform office suite with the same name.

The GNU C library (glibc) locale files are used on all GNU/Linux systems and are needed for software that will run on Linux. The locales are managed by the Free Software Foundation through the GNU project. The glibc locales will be integrated into all Linux-based operating systems.

Completion of these locales will result in multiple downstream benefits. Software platforms such as will be able to correctly code documents for the language and country in which they are produced, and build language-specific features such as spelling and grammar checkers. Unicode fonts can be made available to users in conformity with their locale selection. Services such as Google will be able to identify documents by language in order to offer relevant search results.

Target Languages

The following critera have been used when selecting the target languages
  • Official languages
  • Spoken by at least 500,000 people
  • Linguistic resources or volunteers found

About 200 African languages have been identified that meet one or both of the first 2 criteria. From among those languages, ANLoc aims to find volunteers to complete at least 100 locales. Volunteers who wish to work on African languages that are not on the target list are encouraged to contact the project to arrange for their language to be included, at

Time Horizon

Development of the Afrigen system began on 1 April, 2008, with software and website completion in October. The target date to complete all 100 locales and have them processed for submission to the software and standards bodies is 31 March, 2009. The target languages have been divided into 8 groups based on region. Each group will participate in a "Blitz", which will be a specific date when volunteers will be encouraged to work with each other and their regional coordinators to complete the locales for their languages. In order to leave sufficient time for processing, all blitzes will be completed by 31 January, 2009.