Batazia: Empowering African Languages through Technology

An interview with Bengyella Gwanmesia, Executive at Batazia.

“In Africa, smartphones have revolutionized communication, connectivity, and access to information, bypassing traditional infrastructure like landlines.”

In the heart of Africa’s linguistic diversity, Batazia emerged as a beacon of change, driven by the personal experiences of its founders and a deep-rooted mission to democratize language access. Batazia’s story began with a personal experience… Barbara’s and her sister Ndipabonga’s first day at school, where they were confronted with the challenge of learning in a language entirely new to them—English. The journey of Batazia began with core founder Barbara Gwanmesia’s poignant realization of the language limitations on self-publishing platforms, triggering memories of her own struggles with foreign languages during her early education. Together with her sister Ndipabonga, they embarked on a quest to bridge the language gap prevalent in African educational systems. Thus, Batazia was born, with a vision to universalize access to knowledge for Africa – through language.

“Ultimately, our vision is to create a content platform that hosts a vast array of books and learning materials that can be consumed in multiple African languages, making knowledge accessible to everyone.”

Targeting individuals and organizations seeking to enhance access to education, literature, and product experiences for African communities, Batazia set out to change the landscape by localizing content into African languages. Unlike conventional language models that prioritize high-resource languages, “Batazia’s technology stands out from conventional models due to its Afrocentric focus on addressing the linguistic complexities specific to African languages,” employing innovative AI and NLP techniques to overcome data scarcity challenges and ensure accurate translations.

However, the road wasn’t without its challenges. Data scarcity, linguistic diversity, and technological infrastructure limitations posed significant obstacles. To address these, Batazia implemented strategies such as efficient training methods, synthetic data, and partnerships with local communities and NGOs. The year 2023 marked a significant milestone for Batazia as they secured their first investment rounds, enabling further development of their technology and team expansion.

Looking ahead to 2024, Batazia aims to enhance its translation functionality, particularly focusing on document translation, while expanding the number of supported languages. Through partnerships with language service providers, educational organizations, and tech companies, Batazia seeks to broaden its reach and impact, envisioning a content platform hosting a vast array of materials in multiple African languages.

“Our main goal for 2024 is to enhance the translation functionality of our platform, particularly focusing on document translation.”

Batazia’s journey has been bolstered by its base at CIC, providing essential resources, networking opportunities, and a supportive community of entrepreneurs. CIC’s focus on supporting female-owned businesses in the space has been particularly meaningful as a female-founded company. Reflecting on transformative innovations, Batazia sees the smartphone ecosystem as a beacon of progress, revolutionizing communication, connectivity, and access to information across Africa.

“In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and language, Batazia stands as a testament to the power of innovation and the enduring quest to break down barriers and empower communities through language access.”

Impact Report Client Spotlight General Rotterdam