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5.3.26. Nigeria

FLaReNet Summary

There is no national program on HLT in Nigeria. There used to be a National Institute for Nigerian Languages. The activities are mostly private initiatives around universities The African Languages Technology Initiative (Alt-i) is involved in a number of projects. The Nigerian HLT Society was formed in March 2010.

Contact Point Input

National/Regional contact: Tunde Adegbola, ALT-I.

Programs

There is no national program on HLT in Nigeria as the government has no language policy and does not seem to consider it an important issue at present. There used to be a National Institute for Nigerian Languages, but the government closed down the institute a few years ago and handed its assets to one of the local universities. The institute therefore lost its inter-university status which had put it at a vantage point to midwife such initiatives and HLT.

The activities are mostly private initiatives around universities.

The African Languages Technology Initiative (Alt-i, http://www.alt-i.org) is lead by Tunde Adegbola. Alt-i is involved in a number of projects including (but not limited to) Automatic diacritisation of Yoruba text, Machine Translation, Speech Recognition and Speech Synthesis. There is no government funding for Alt-I activities, despite trials to build up partnership with the National Information Technology Development Agency. It is a private initiative, which is mainly funded from international funding agencies such as IDRC in Canada, and private foundations such as OSIWA (part of the George Soros foundation).

Apart from Alt-i, the University of Uyo is the only other coherent and structured effort in Nigeria, receiving public funding as a University, but the work they are conducting in speech synthesis is funded via a local World Bank project.

Mr. Amuda Sulyman has just returned from a one-year Full Bright fellowship at the University of Texas at Dallas, and is now at the University of Ilorin. He is working on Speech Recognition (amudasulyman@yahoo.com). Dr. Odejobi of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria also works on Speech Recognition (oodejobi@yahoo.com).

University of Uyo held a two-week International workshop on the TTS of African Tone languages in March 2010. Resource Persons at the Workshop included Prof. Dafydd Gibbon, Prof. Etienne Bernard, and Dr. Tunde Adegbola. Participant came from various Nigerian universities. It is also planning an International Conference on African Languages to hold from September 19 - 22. 2010 on the theme of “Language Documentation and the Development of Nigerian Languages” (Contact Person: Imelda Icheji Lawrence-Udoh, ichejiudoh@yahoo.com).

The Nigerian HLT Society was formed in March 2010 in Abuja, Nigeria during the International workshop on the TTS of African Tone languages (Contact Person: Prof. Eno-Abasi Urua, enoabasi@gmail.com).