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Why Are Translations So Important When Approaching The African Market?

by Nina Smith

Did you know that 60 percent of consumers don’t buy in Africa if they can only read about the product or service in English? That holds true for many other regions, as one survey conducted in 29 countries across the globe found the number to be 40 percent.

These numbers truly show, just how essential translation services really are for the global markets and UK based companies working with international clients. When conducting business overseas, you need to work directly with a reliable translation agency, such as TranslationServices24 which will allow your content and documents to be translated accurately.

There are over 2000 languages spoken in Africa alone, and it’s vital to address the community in their local language. This article will discuss why that is.

Better Communication

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This is common sense as communication is much clearer when done in a person’s native language. In many African countries, residents are bilingual, with French and English being the most common second languages. However, most people prefer speaking in their mother tongues.

When communicating in the local language, the communication will be much more transparent, even when using an interpreter. Even if the person you communicate with is proficient in a second language like English, they would naturally prefer to speak in their mother tongue.

Our brains are wired to communicate and respond better in our mother tongue. Research shows that using the mother tongue for teaching in early childhood results in better learning abilities in children.

Show of Respect

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Africans, in general, take pride in their language. You’ll hear people speaking fluent English and French in central business hubs like Lagos, Dakar, Accra, Cairo, and Johannesburg. However, if you use their native language for communication, you’ll quickly earn their respect.

It’s a cultural thing as well, but also one that has psychological effects. When communicating in local languages, you honour culture and heritage, which is a show of utmost respect.

In African communities, business meetings are often very casual, as they try to establish a personal connection before a strictly business one. Using translation services for the African market is a surefire way to earn the trust of the potential client or partner.

Widespread Reach

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Africa is a vast continent with a fast-growing population. It’s one of the most promising markets for many sectors. However, reaching and convincing the African market is not an easy task.

Firstly, many parts of Africa lack the buying power you will typically enjoy in developed countries. This leads to more stiff competition. Secondly, and more importantly, the African market won’t buy if they can’t read about it in their language.

Whether it’s the packaging of a product, a billboard advertisement, or a video for social media, using the local language can be the difference between profit and loss.

A professional African translation agency can help your business take a localized approach for different markets. Rather than using one language for all the countries and regions you want to approach, you can translate your marketing content to cater directly to the local markets in many different countries.

Gaining Trust

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For specific industries, gaining consumer trust is vital for success. For instance, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies may have a hard time crossing cultural barriers in rural African communities. Language can be a key to crossing that barrier and earning the consumer’s trust.

A study published in the Nigerian Journal of Management Studies found that using local language on pharmaceutical labelling positively impacted consumer decision-making.

Aside from medicine and healthcare, any new service or product can have a hard time gaining consumers’ trust. Add to that a language barrier, and you have a recipe for disaster.

While consumer spending in Africa is gradually increasing, businesses can still have difficulty penetrating the market even with no competition. This is why using the native languages of the region you’re serving is highly important.

Cultural Sensitivity

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According to Africa Ready, culture is crucial, which means being insensitive to any cultural norms and values can result in backlash from consumers. Using a local language for communication, marketing, and advertisement can help avoid instances of cultural insensitivity.

You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot by writing or saying something disrespectful or controversial in African countries.

Context matters a lot when it comes to languages, and perhaps using a foreign language can distort the context at times.
Similarly, you also want to avoid racy images and words that may seem creative but, in reality, cross the cultural lines. Again, African communities are very sensitive about their culture and heritage.

Digital Languages

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In addition to using translations for business dealing and marketing, your online presence should also be translatable. For instance, your website should ideally be available in all the languages of the regions or communities you are targeting.
Although Google translation on Chrome has gotten pretty sophisticated over the years, creating multilingual websites with the assistance of a professional African translation company would be the best approach. It may cost more but will be worth it. That way, you can ensure 100 percent accurate translation of the digital content.

The same approach should be taken for social media. Either create content in different languages or create accounts or pages for various local markets using their native language as the primary language of communication and content.

This does not mean that you should forego English. Your website should also be available in English or French, depending on the African country or region. However, the audience should have the option to access the website in their language.

This is all the more important for retailers pursuing e-commerce in Africa.
Using translation services for the African market is a must for any foreign business expanding into the continent. It’s even applicable for local African companies expanding into other countries that have different languages.

This is where an African translation agency can come in with their expert translators and interpreters, who can help translate your marketing campaigns, business contracts, and even facilitate physical or virtual business meetings.
No matter where in the world you go, you will be more welcome if you use the local language of the people.