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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 12:02 GMT
Microsoft Swahili speakers launch
Microsoft instructions in Kiswahili
Microsoft launched its Swahili software in Nairobi
Microsoft has launched its software in Swahili targeting more than 110 million speakers of the language.

The Swahili Windows and Office programmes are a product of two years of work by language experts from East and Central Africa.

They had to work on the standardisation of the language which is spoken in different dialects across the region.

The software giant says this software is intended to bridge a digital divide between developed and emerging markets.

Language experts from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar as well as the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of Congo had to come up with a common glossary.

Some 650,000 words have already been translated for the Windows and Office programmes, while another 70,000 words have been translated for the help menus.

There are more than 100 million Swahili-speakers in the region - in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and parts of the Horn of Africa, Great Lakes, Malawi, Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands.

The company argues that in a region with few computer users and high illiteracy rates, the Swahili version of Windows will inspire East African governments to expand their IT economies, encourage literacy campaigns and attract more computer users.

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