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Machine Learning for African Languages

Despite speech increasingly becoming one of the main ways people interact with devices, voice technology remains largely closed off to Africa’s languages, accents, and speech patterns. Case in point: The world’s most popular voice assistants, Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, still don’t support any African languages. The continent has more than 1,000 languages. Common Voice, a crowdsourcing project started by the Mozilla Foundation in 2017, has been addressing this by inviting speakers of African languages to donate their voices to a free and publicly available dataset that researchers and developers can use to train voice-enabled apps, products, and services.