The African continent can best be described as a giant which is waking up from many years of slumber. Africa is blessed with the abundance of human resource, natural resources, conducive climate and yet the continent is considered as the world’s poorest inhabited continent.
This picture is however beginning to change with Africa closing the year 2013 as the world’s fastest growing continent at 5.6% a year with the gross domestic product expected to rise by an average of over 6% in the period leading up to 2023.
This recorded and anticipated economic growth is being precipitated by increasing political stability, increased number of skilled manpower, extensive trade routes opening up as well as rapid mining and infrastructure development projects coming up around the continent. This rapid economic activity has attracted new players into the continent with China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates becoming key trade partners and investors in mining and infrastructure development. Apart from external investors, African countries with different cultures and languages have also increased economic and social interactions.
Expert research has over the years reviewed that business in Africa is not done in an identical fashion from culture to culture or country to country. Among the most cited barriers to conflict free cross cultural business communication is the use of different languages. It is therefore not difficult to state the importance that an understanding of linguistic differences plays in international business communication. Difficulties with language fall into three categories, gross translation problems, problems in conveying subtle distinctions from language to language and culturally based variations among speakers of the same language. Attitudes towards accents and dialects also create barriers in international business communication.
The above highlighted contrasting picture of emerging African growth and the language impediment has created the perfect marriage of convenience and business relationship between translators and interpreters with business organisations venturing into Africa. In order to effectively endear themselves to the targeted market segments and local publics, business organisations are depending on translators to convert and contextualise written communication messages. Interpreters are also being considered for public meetings to ensure misunderstandings are reduced or eliminated from business communication and transactions.
The African business environment and the Interpretation and Translation industry partnership is therefore a mutually beneficial one.