Nigerian Developer Unveils Messaging Platform Capable of Translating 2000 African Languages

My interview with Professor Paul Romer, Nobel Laureate, and former Chief Economist at the World Bank

A Nigerian developer, Gabriel Emmanuel has developed a language platform OBTranslate that makes it easy for Africans to communicate in different languages.

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, OBTranslate is capable of translating over 2000 African languages.

Germany-based, Gabriel is the CEO of OpenBinacle which was founded in 2015. In 2017, the startup developed OBTalker which is a messaging app similar to Whatsapp and Telegram. The app is a real time cloud based messaging platform that supports voice and video calls.

Gabriel Emmanuel Unveils OBTranslate Which Translates 2000 African Languages
Gabriel Emmanuel, the CEO of OpenBinacle

In 2017 shortly after OBTalker launched, OpenBinancle was accepted into OVH Incubator, a European tech hub.

The newly created OBTranslate is built on the existing architecture of OBTalker. Originally, OBTalker claims to support text to speech feature and is capable of translating into 26 languages.

But OBTranslate gives it greater reach with the many more languages in its portfolio. With thousands of ethnic groups in Africa each speaking different languages and dialects, OBTranslate looks to simplify things for Africans.

“Our goal is to break language communication barriers in rural and urban areas in Africa and it will enable self-driving cars, smartphones, linear robots and wireless technology to communicate and interact with Africans in their dialects,” said Gabriel.

“Farmers will be able to trade their goods and services without language communication barriers.”

Nigerian Developer Announces Messaging Platform Capable of Translating 2000 African Languages
OBTranslate was created and relies on the architecture of OBtalker an instant messaging app.

However the OBTranslate platform is yet to be launched. And when we checked its website, there was no information about when it would launch. However, the company says OBTranslate is still in beta and will be available on all platforms “soon.”

Regardless of its unavailability as at now, OBTranslate seems like a very ambitious project. While it’s laudable how the Gabriel and his team are using Machine learning, translating 2000 African languages sounds like a herculean undertaking. For one thing, such a task would require plenty of resources and language experts from across the continent.

A cursory look at OpenBinacle suggests the company may lack the resources to pull this off.

When it joined the OVH Accelerator program, it secured $100,000 funding. That’s basically how much information we have about their funding as there’s no information about any other funding round.

Uptake about its OBTalker app has also been lousy. The platform has gained no traction since it launched two years ago. Perhaps things will change when the OBTranslate platform finally goes live.


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