Zimbabwean Startup Bhala Introduces An African Language App That Uses Machine Learning To Improve Writing Experience


June 18, 2021, 2 p.m.

A mobile virtual keyboard that uses machine learning and advanced deep learning models to improve the experience of writing in African languages has been launched.

Launched by Zimbabwean startup Bhala, the virtual keyboard currently supports word auto-complete, spellcheck, and word prediction in ChiShona, IsiNdebele, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, KiSwahili, Sepedi, Sesotho and SiSwati, with more coming soon.

The self-funded platform currently has more than 10,000 downloads and is looking to extend its services beyond Zimbabwe to cover the entire continent.

Director of operations Njabulo Sandawana claims it has more accurate autocorrect and predictions than any comparable app on the market, including those Google’s Gboard and Microsoft’s SwiftKey.

“Too often Africans have to tolerate technology not designed for them or their needs. Bhala is different. It’s built by Africans, for Africans, and for African needs, while respecting privacy and ethical considerations through research-based methods,” he said.

“We are committed to providing technology that enables users to communicate effectively, efficiently, and improves their user mobile device experience,” Njabulo concluded.

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Verny Joy Author

Verny loves to write poetry, fiction and quotes. Her love for writing landed her in journalism. She loves gadgets and travelling to explore new places.