The private sector has welcomed the government’s decision to include Swahili among the country’s official languages, calling it a good step towards enhancing business within the region.
Speaking to The New Times last week, the Chief Executive Officer of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Stephen Ruzibiza, said that Swahili will address the communication challenge, and called on business operators, especially importers and exporters to the region, to try and learn Swahili.
“We welcome Swahili as the fourth official language in our country. As the private sector, this will enhance communication, especially within the business community across the region, and facilitate doing business as the East African Community integration deepens. We need more people to learn this language since it’s among the business languages spoken in various countries,” he said.
Businessman Vianney Kabera, who exports fresh produce such as pepper, green beans, sweet banana, avocadoes, among others to Europe, said that Swahili is going to be a major game changer in business within the region.
“Obviously, it is going to be taught in schools and this is something I consider very positive. In countries like Tanzania where English is rarely used, Swahili will work perfectly. For anyone doing business in the EAC member countries, this is very beneficial because communication is key to any business transaction,” he said.
Professor Pacifique Malonga, who for the past 10 years has dedicated his time to teaching Swahili in Rwanda, free of charge, says that the move is worth celebrating.
Malonga said that introducing the language would place Rwandans at an advantage as compared to other languages like English.
“I am celebrating this move because I have been dedicated to teaching Swahili since we joined the EAC. There is no shortcut to integration because it’s about exchange of views, trading, and the only way to do this in the regional market is through Swahili. There are very few people who can speak or adopt English compared to those who can adopt Kiswahili which is a Bantu language and is closer to other native languages. If enough efforts are put in this, there are many fruits to reap from it,” he said.
In a telephone interview, the Secretary General of the Rwanda Journalists Association, Gonzaga Muganwa, said that the journalism fraternity was ready to play a role in advancing the language.
“As the first step in response to the cabinet decision, about 27 journalists who speak and practice their trade in the language met last week to talk about how best they can play a role in promoting the language. We also wanted to create partnership with the rest of the journalists in the region and tap into their resources as far as learning, using and teaching the language is concerned,” he said.
The journalists have formed an association Wanahabari wa Kiswahili Rwanda (WAKIRWA). Sylvanus Karemera, a journalist working for RBA was elected as the Chairman.