Ethiopia’s standards body, the Quality and Standards Authority of Ethiopia, has legalized the nation’s first character set standard. The highly anticipated standard, ES 781:2002, sets the foundation that future computer, software, and electronic communication standards of Ethiopia will be built upon.
With “Ethiocode” now at hand, Ethiopia is braced to take on much awaited standards for localization and native language support. While working towards international acceptance of the new character set, this next phase of work is already underway.
ES 781 specifies all symbols required for orthography in every part of the country. The standard includes the 345 “basic” characters found already in Unicode 4.0, plus it introduces 114 characters targeted for the “Extended Ethiopic” domain of the Unicode Roadmap. While perhaps new to electronic standardization, a number of the “extended” elements have been in active use for over 1400 years and may present some new software challenges. This paper reviews these new characters, standards activity in Ethiopia and their implications over the next few years.