The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) recently announced the top 10 nominees who will be contending for the ‘2017 Innovation Prize for Africa’, in Accra on July 18.
Innovators from nine African countries were shortlisted – one from DRC, Egypt, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe; and two from Nigeria – and one of the most impressive minds on the list has to be Omolabake Adenle for her voice recognition and speech synthesis software for African languages.
Founded under her startup, AJA.LA Studios, Adenle’s software can understand and digitize African languages; and synthesize speech from African languages presented as digitized text – just imagine Siri speaking and reading Yoruba.
Digitizing African languages like this will allow Africans to interact with a wide range of devices and third-party software applications in their local languages.
While voice recognition and speech synthesis software have been developed for various Western and Asian languages, there has been very limited commercial application or academic research for African languages.
This innovation will open up opportunities for Africans with low literacy levels – or those that simply don’t speak English – to also enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution.