Product Manager, Microsoft Mobile, Mr. Kingori Gitahi, addresses journalists and bloggers during a media round-table to launch Microsoft Swahili Translator in Nairobi.

Quick fact: Swahili is spoken by up to 150 million people through Eastern Africa. Another quick fact: Swahili is Kenya’s national language. Microsoft East Africa launched the Microsoft Kiswahili Translator, the first African language to be supported by Microsoft Translator, the company’s automatic translation service. This is a major contribution to ensuring the continuity and growth of this language especially in a country that has it as its national language like Kenya and Tanzania.

How It Works

Speaking at the launch, King’ori Gitahi, Product Manager for Microsoft East Africa says, “We have partnered with Translators Without Borders, an NGO that aims to increase access to knowledge through humanitarian translations, to make the words available in Swahili.”

Instead of using hand-crafted rules to translate between languages, the translator approaches translation as a problem of learning from the user, the more you use it to translate from English to Swahili, the more accurate it becomes.

Microsoft Translator for Kiswahili, works with a vast range of gadgets-Apple and Android watches, the iPhone, the Windows phone, Android devices, personal computers and tablets. It is also integrated in a number of programs and products like Bing, Microsoft Office, (Word, Word Online, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, OneNote, and Vision), SharePoint, Cortana and Yammer.

All you have to do is to download the translator application on your device and start using it. It is as simple as that. Once you have it, you are able to translate text, speech, documents, web pages, even restaurant menus and street signs. You can even use it on Skype when doing video chats, or let Bing automatically translate your tweets to Swahili if you want to. Pretty cool.

What Benefits Does The Microsoft Translator For Swahili Come With?

  • Picture this. Mr. Thomas McBrickidy is an American businessman that has identified Mama Muigai’s farm as a potential place to buy fresh produce for his company in the States. He wants to talk to the lady about it, and has visited her home to talk to her about it. Sadly, Mama Muigai only understands Kiswahili and Kikuyu which Thomas knows nothing about. The translator seeks to break down these language barriers, and to make communication in situations like this and many others possible.
  • The Government can use this translator to make documents and information available to the common mwananchi at no cost at all. In addition, both government and non-governmental organizations will be able to quickly communicate with locals, and most importantly, people will be able to communicate back and forth across borders for both business and personal purpose.
  • With the addition of Swahili to the Microsoft Translator,Kiswahili speakers in East Africa and around the globe now have access to a wider range of information and culture. They can interact with speakers of the other 50 languages supported by Microsoft Translator, like French, Spanish, Korean ,Slovenian, Portuguese, Chinese and many others. “What’s more, speakers of these languages now also have direct access to the rich history and culture of Kiswahili speakers far and wide,” explained Mr. Kunle Awosika, Country Manager Microsoft Kenya.
  • Developers will be able to integrate Kiswahili translation into their own products and apps through the Microsoft Translator API, and if you already have a website or an app running, then you can simply add multi-language support at no cost using the Microsoft Translator Web Widget.
  • It is free and requires no subscription or extra charges at all to use, which is convenient for almost everyone.
  • It translates in real time. You do not have to wait for hours to get your translation. You get it as soon as you key in whatever you want to translate to Swahili.

Thumbs up to Microsoft, for this great integration. Kiswahili Kitukuzwe.

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