XTM Advent Calendar Day Seventeen – Your Digital Map Of The World
Fans of TV drama “The West Wing” may remember an episode which featured a map of the world turned upside down. A group of cartographers lobbied the White House to promote social equality by correcting the proportionate sizes of countries on our maps, and putting the southern hemisphere on top. The world may not have taken that particular hint, but the digital map is being redrawn before our eyes.
In 2021, over 2,500 virtual delegates attended the ninth annual Digital Africa Conference. The forum examined the prospective impact of AI and communications technology on the continent. The potential was clear, and a little overwhelming. Half a billion people – approximately half of the region’s population – subscribe to mobile phone services in Sub-Saharan Africa. Forecasts for increased smartphone usage vary, but mobile phone ownership in South Africa and Nigeria is already as common as in the United States. And the demographic argument for investing is powerful; by the end of this century, Africa is projected to be home to half of the world’s children.
It’s already home to approximately one in fifteen of the world’s women, and the road to social and economic empowerment for these women hasn’t been smooth. In many parts of the continent, cultural restrictions have given female entrepreneurs little or no chance to develop business ideas. African businesswomen have faced being forbidden to travel long distances, restricting the potential customer base to their immediate surrounding area. But internet access can address this issue without causing damaging culture clashes. The fact that many of Africa’s female entrepreneurs can now manage cross-border communication represents a major step forward.
Recognizing people’s potential and respecting their culture can build a bridge, and language technology that enables multilingual communication can help you cross it. Your digital map of the world is changing. It may not quite be turning upside down, but it looks very different from what we saw twenty, ten or even five years ago. Next-generation language technology will help you make your mark on it.