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Kilinux (klnX), the Open Swahili Localization Project, is a project by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), and IT+46[1] for localizing major applications to the Swahili language.

It is based in Tanzania and run on Linux, and aims to create an operating system in Swahili, which is spoken by an estimated 100 million people. The project was started as a joint effort between the University of Dar es Salaam and Swedish company IT +46.


Swahili is a Bantu language spoken by about 100 million people in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique and other areas in or near the African Great Lakes region.[2] Most users are using Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, but since that is not available in Swahili,[3] they have to use English or French.[2] Kilinux tried to reduce the threshold by localizing Open Office.[4] In June 2004 Microsoft announced a Swahili version of Windows.[5][6]


How can ICT develop Tanzania by adopting it in English in secondary education when only less than 12 per cent of the relevant age group enter into secondary schools?

A participant in the workshop The future of ICT in Secondary Schools - Strategizing for Implementation in January 2005[4]

The Kilinux project began in 2003 with the development of a glossary and a spell checker for[4]

The Kilinux Project received an award in May 2006 as the best ICT project in the category education of the 2006 Stockholm challenge.[7][8][9]

Swahili IT Glossary[edit]

In October 2004 Kilinux released a Swahili IT Glossary[10] under the Creative Commons ShareAlike license containing over 1500 "computer related terms in English and their Swahili equivalents",[1][11] because the Swahili language did not contain any computer terminology.[3]

Jambo OpenOffice[edit]

Main article: Jambo OpenOffice

The first major release by the project — Jambo OpenOffice (Hello OpenOffice[2]) — was a localised version of, an open source office suite, and was aimed primarily at schools and colleges.

Jambo Firefox[edit]

On 15 June 2006 the project announced they had localised the web browser Mozilla Firefox.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Because it could be done, we play our part! Swahili Free and Open Source Software.". 4 December 2004. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "L'Afrique dit "Jambo" aux logiciels libres" (in French). BBC. 15 December 2004. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Marson, Ingrid (6 December 2004). " goes Swahili". ZDNet. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Menda, Aloyce (17 March 2005). "East Africa: Kilinux OSS Innovation Propels ICT localization in Ki-Swahili" (198). Pambazuka News. ISSN 1753-6839. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "'Jambo' to open source software". BBC. 9 December 2004. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Microsoft bets on Africa's IT future". IDG News Service. 2 January 2005. Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "Kilinux". Stockholm Challenge. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  8. ^ Mkenda, Ulrick (15 May 2006). "Winners Stockholm Challenge 2006". Kilinux. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Frank, Richard (24 May 2006). "African localisation wins at Stockholm". Archived from the original on 25 September 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  10. ^ IT46 (2004). "Swahili IT Glossary". Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  11. ^ Zuckerman, Ethan (3 March 2005). "Jambo OpenOffice". Worldchanging. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  12. ^