Languages are powerful tools of communication, without which no meaningful and sustainable development can truly take place. African languages like any other languages have economic value.
English and French languages are often associated with prestige and economic progress and it is not hard to see why – they are widely spoken and accepted as official languages in different parts of the world.
Therefore decision males in African responsible for language development need to take decisive steps in empowering African languages. For Africa to have a solid and progressive economy, conscious and sustainable efforts must be taken to develop African languages that the majority of the African population speak and understand. There is need to broaden the usage of African languages to allow for inclusive participation of all for knowledge gathering and by extension wealth creation.
African languages should not be limited to social interactions among friends and family. They are spoken across all age groups and by well over 70% of the African population but still not embraced as official languages and languages of instruction.
This has led to a failure to properly harness its full economic value and possibilities. The use of English and French languages as official languages in Africa favour the elite and the middle class. The majority of Africans are however still below this class. To close the gap and ensure more equitable distribution of wealth, we must broaden the use of our indigenous African languages in all domain of life.
Our diverse languages are important enabling resource for developing communities to actively participate in the process of wealth creation through generation of knowledge.
Africa has all it takes to become an economic world power if it repositions its languages as a tool for economic development and empowerment. Embracing African languages as languages of instruction in schools for instance would greatly boost our academic achievement, self-reliance, greater creativity and hence productivity, and more economic opportunities and hence prosperity.
Therefore, the efforts of the African Academy languages (ACALAN), the linguistic arm of the African Union to develop and promote African languages as tools of African integration and development. ACALAN has brought about a reawakening of consensus to not just develop African languages but as much as possible see that they become official languages and languages of instruction.
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