Illiteracy has been one of the factors of underdevelopment in Africa. As a result of this, a great number of Africans cannot access social media. To solve this problem, it was necessary to create the Lenali Oral App for ‘illiterates’.

According to African Library Project, there are more illiterates today than 20 years ago. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the rate of youths literacy aging from 15-24 have however increased over the past 20 years. This suggests that adult literacy rate will increase as they grow up.

The biggest barrier to literacy is the absence of books and other educational facilities in most rural areas. According to a report from UNESCO on the International Literacy Day 2017, Sub-Saharan Africa has made progress.  The literacy rate rose from 65% in 1990 to 75% 2016.

Education in Mali is expensive, costly and overpriced. Consequently, its literate population rates below 50%.  The African Library Project on Africa Literacy facts,  indicates that 1 in 3 adults cannot read,182 million adults are unable to read and write, 48 million youths (ages 15-24) are illiterates, 22% of primary aged children are not in school.  That makes 30 million primary aged children who are not in school.

The result is having a growing adult population that cannot read or understand information found on educational materials (nutritional guides, road maps, application for a job, business offers, online marketing etc).

Noticing that illiteracy can prevent you from using your computer or Smartphone to carry out activities such as;

  •         Looking up-to-date news and information
  •         Communicate with others via email or social network sites
  •         Shop online, read product reviews and user feedback
  •         Get prices for goods and services,

Mali’s Mamadou Gouro decided to create an oral App called Lenali for illiterates in Mali. For this 44-year old Malian, social networking platforms like Facebook, Twiiter, Instagram and Whatsapp, are most considered platforms for literates (those who can read and write).

Illiterates in Africa will be able to access social media thanks to Lenali Oral App
Lenali Oral App for those who can’t identify themselves with other social media

Thus creating an oral app will make access to online information easier for those facing literacy setbacks.

How did Lenali come about?

Last year when Mamadou Gouru visited a provision shop in Mali, the vendor approached him requesting for his help with translating a message on Viber because he could not read. Mamadou was astonished and realised he had to help the illiterate Malian population.

A great opportunity for him to offer Malians with another version of Facebook, called Lenali. Just as Facebook provided users with options to ‘Like’ and ‘post’, translate its interface in different African languages, it has not given illiterates the opportunity to use their service, thus keeping illiterates out of the digital world.

The Lenali app is all about giving illiterates the opportunity to access social media.

Once on the platform users have the first option of registration which is the choice of language. It also has audio that directs the user on how to go about it.  Moreover, Lenali can create her profile vocally for those who cannot or do not want to write. To post or publish, the user simply needs to press record then release.

Lenali also allows users to automatically generate a GPS route to the position of an interlocutor. This is possible if the receiver accepts the call.

Lenali Oral App and the African Oral Culture

The days to consider illiteracy as a curse to a country’s development will soon be over. With the rise of experts in the digital world, all will feel belonging no matter your status.

It will be important to note that Lenali is coming to revive the African oral culture. Orality is a means to express one’s thought verbally in societies where the technologies of literacy (writing and print) are unfamiliar to most of the population.

Orality has been part of the oral African tradition where parents tell stories in other to communicate with their children. Parents could translate message from one generation to the other. To be able to read and write was not so necessary. So why can’t we embrace online oral communication today?  This will give everyone the opportunity to take active part in online marketing and long distance engagement.

Lenali is timely. It comes at a time when the world is striving to eradicate poverty and encourage globalization.

It is paramount to note that Lenali Oral App is one of the first social platforms that is totally vocal and makes use of African languages. In the years to come, online communication and marketing will involve a larger audience. Africans and the world at large will benefit from such a service.

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