3 things you should know about simultaneous interpretation in Africa

 | Interpretation best practices

Many African capital cities are becoming increasingly popular choices for international conferences, thanks to first-class conference venues and improved infrastructure. Calliope member Victor Imboua-Niava shares his insights on simultaneous interpretation in Africa.

Simultaneous interpretation: an emerging profession in Africa

Africa map - CC0 Public Domain - PixabayThe budding interpretation market of the late sixties has blossomed into professional language services for many UN, international, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as private sector firms on African soil. These entities need and use simultaneous interpretation on a daily basis.

African conference interpreters were initially trained mainly in English and French, but today, more and more interpreters are being trained in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and even Chinese. On top of that, the average African speaks at least two main local languages fluently, providing a highly flexible range of interpretation services.

The Pan-African Consortium of Interpretation and Translation (PAMCIT), in partnership with the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU) and African universities in Mozambique, Kenya, Ghana and Senegal, is helping to meet the growing demand in Africa to train interpreters and translators. Training is provided by interpreter-trainers who are members of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC).

Africa: the ‘new frontier’ for major international conferences

Huge convention centers have sprung up over the past 10 years, making Africa one of the ‘go-to’ continents for international conferences. It’s not surprising Morocco has been chosen for the next United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 22) later this year.

Capital cities such as Cape Town (South Africa), Dakar (Senegal), Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Kigali (Rwanda), and  Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) are rapidly emerging as attractive conference destinations which adhere to international interpretation standards. Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), sporting both the recent Chinese-built African Union Conference Center and the UNECA Conference Center, also regularly plays host to large international meetings. AIIC members congregated there for the AIIC Assembly 2015.

Responding to crisis with resilience

Following the Ebola outbreak in 2014, stringent measures were introduced to restrict air and land travel to and from West African countries in particular. The wave of insecurity caused by militant Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria and its surrounding countries also meant that a number of international meetings had to be cancelled or postponed.

However, African governments have now established sophisticated preventive security measures to keep conference venues safe and secure. African capitals are deemed perfectly safe for conferences, thanks to a coordinated and forward-looking approach adopted by key stakeholders.

If you are planning a conference or global meeting in Africa, get in touch with your questions.

Victor IMBOUA-NIAVA, Member of AIIC. Responsible for most of Africa, Victor Imboua-Niava is the Calliope Simultaneous Interpretation member based in Accra, Ghana.

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Member of AIIC, Member of Calliope