A Nigerian Mechanical Engineer based in the United States of America, Mr. Olukayode Oluwole, has invented a multi-lingual computer keyboard, capable of typing "diacritical marks and characters" of over 400 Nigerian languages.

Diacritical characters and marks are meant to distinguish different sounds and meanings of various words and letters, according to language experts.

Unveiling the new invention in Lagos, Oluwole said the keyboard, which has already gone into commercial production, would hit the Nigerian market in May. The keyboard will be marketed by Lagos Analysis Corporation (LANCOR).

He said he, along with another U.S. based Nigerian, Mr. Ade Oyegbola, President, LANCOR and Mr. George Van-Lare, MD, LANCOR, spent about eight years on extensive research before they completed the project.

Oluwole noted that Ambassador Yusuf Usman, Ciroma of Kastina, Chairman of LANCOR, made significant input in providing the Hausa autography of the project.

"We consulted extensively at home and abroad, especially with experts at Nigerian Institute of Languages in Aba, Nigerian universities and those involved with the Nigerian Type Writer Project, notably Dr. Victor Manfredi, Professor of Linguistics at Boston University, whom we also consulted for Nigerian autography.

"We initially thought of only the three major Nigerian languages, but had to go beyond that to cover every language group in Nigeria when we realised that it was feasible," he stated.

According to him, the new keyboard christened KONYIN--Yoruba for "drop of honey" - accommodates all the alphabets in local Nigerian languages as well as four major currency symbols, including the Naira sign.

"This keyboard does not change the way you type and it is also Nigerian-specific," he added. It is a physical keyboard, not a virtual keyboard that is only uni-language specific. We have a country specific keyboard.

"There are virtual keyboards that try to emulate a physical keyboard but this is not a practical solution. For the first time in electronic history, we now have a Nigerian keyboard with which you can mix English with any Nigerian language(s) in the same document," he siad.