French is one of the official languages spoken in many countries in Africa due to the continent’s historical ties with France. With over 140 million people across the continent speaking French, it’s no surprise that several African countries are considered francophone.. These countries share a common language and cultural heritage with France, which has influenced their politics, education, and economic systems.
French Language in Africa
French is the world’s fifth most spoken language and it’s all thanks to the millions of Africans who speak the language daily.
The continent currently contributes 47.7 percent (143.1 million) to the French-speaking population. This is more than 45.7 percent (137.1 million) of the whole of Europe and France with a population of 67.12 million.
According to a recent report by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), There are More French Speakers in Africa Than The Whole OF Europe.
The report added that between 2010 and 2018, 22.7 million more people spoke French and 68 percent of these additional French speakers live in sub-Saharan Africa, 22 percent live in North Africa, 7 percent reside in America while Europe houses just 3 percent of the 22.7 million new speakers.
Half of all French speakers live in Africa, and the population growth there could push the total number of French speakers to as high as 700 million by 2050 (compared to about 300 million today).
The growing African population is a huge contributor to French language ranking 5th on the chart. Till date, French remains the sole official language in more than 10 African countries and the second official language in many countries in Africa. The OIF estimates that the number of French speakers will rise to over 700 million by 2050, 80 percent of whom will be in Africa.
Best French Speaking Countries in Africa, 2023
When it comes to French-speaking countries in Africa, a rich tapestry of culture, history, and linguistic diversity unfolds. These nations, located in different regions across the continent, share the commonality of French as an official language, inherited from their colonial past. From the Maghreb region in the north to the Central and West African countries, the influence of French can be seen in various aspects of daily life, including politics, education, and arts. In this article, we will explore some of the best French-speaking countries in Africa, highlighting their unique characteristics, natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and contributions to the continent’s development. Join us on this journey to discover the allure of these nations, where the French language intertwines with Africa’s rich heritage.
1. Democratic Republic of the Congo
French is the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is culturally accepted as the lingua franca facilitating communication among the many different ethnic groups of the Congo.
According to a 2014 OIF report, 33 million Congolese people (47% of the population) could read and write in French. In the capital city Kinshasa, 67% of the population could read and write French, and 68.5% could speak and understand it.
2. Republic of the Congo
The official language of the Republic of Congo is French.
The French language is spoken by 30% of the Congolese population. More than 50% of those in Brazzaville aged over 15 can write simple phrases in French.
3. Côte d’Ivoire
There are around 78 different languages spoken in Ivory Coast but The official language of the republic is French.
The French language which was introduced during the colonial period is taught in schools and serves as a lingua franca in the country.
Malagasy and French are both official languages of Madagascar.
French became the official language during the colonial period, when Madagascar came under the authority of France. In the first national Constitution of 1958, Malagasy and French were named the official languages of the Malagasy Republic.
French is mostly spoken as a second language among the educated population and used for international communication.
The official languages of Cameroon are French and English, the languages of former colonial French Cameroons and British Cameroons.
French is by far the most understood language in Cameroon.
In addition to the colonial languages, there are approximately 250 other languages spoken by nearly 20 million Cameroonians.
6. Burkina Faso
The official language is French, which was introduced when France colonized Burkina Faso in 1919.
French is the principal language of administrative, political and judicial institutions, public services, and the press. It is the only language for laws, administration and courts. French is also the language of instruction in the nation’s schools.
In Niger, French is spoken mainly as a second language by people who have received an education according to Wikipedia, 20% of Nigeriens are literate in French, and even 47% in cities, growing quickly as literacy improves.
The French language is the language used by the official administration, the media and the business community.
Mali is a multilingual country. With over 80 languages, Of these, French is the official language.
French which was introduced during the colonial period, was retained as the official language at independence and is used in government and formal education. Almost all people who speak French in Mali speak it as a second language.
The language is more understood in urban centres.
There are around 78 different languages spoken in Ivory Coast, but French, which was inherited from the colonial era, is the official language of Senegal.
French is used by the administration and understood by about 15–20% of all males and about 1–2% of all women.
Senegal is also a member State of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.
Benin is a diverse country linguistically. A total of 55 languages are spoken in Benin, with 50 being indigenous. Of those,
French is the official language.
French was introduced during the
colonial period and retained as the official language upon independence. Today it is an important lingua franca between diverse ethnic groups.
It is important to know French to get an administrative position or work in the cities in general, and speaking it is a mark of prestige.
The official language of Togo is French. The language was inherited from the period of French mandate rule over the area, was made the official language at independence.
There are around 40 different languages spoken in Guinea, but French, which was inherited from the colonial era, is the official language.
French is the language of state and of official institutions. It is used by 15 to 25% of the population. At the end of the
Ahmed Sékou Touré regime, French was the only language used in business and schools.
The languages of Djibouti include Afar, Arabic, Somali and French. Although Arabic and French serve as the official languages. Somali and Afar are the most widely spoken tongues.
French was inherited from the colonial period and is the primary language of instruction. About 17,000 Djiboutians speak it as a first language.
Chad has two official languages, French and Modern Standard Arabic, and over 120 indigenous languages. Of the two official languages, French has the most speakers in Chad.
15. Equitorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is a country located on the west coast of Central Africa.
The country has two official languages, Spanish and French.
Unlike the French language, Spanish has been an official language since 1844. It is still the language of education and administration. French was only made official in order to join the Francophonie and it is not locally spoken, except in some border towns.
16. Central African Republic
The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa.
There are a total of about 72 languages in the country. But the official languages of the Central African Republic are French and Sangho.
French is the language of writing and formal situations. In 2005 it was estimated that 22.5% of the population could speak French (that number must have gone up by now).
Seychelles is an archipelago country in the Indian Ocean.
The country has three official languages, English, French and Seychellois Creole.
French and English are official languages along with Seychellois Creole, which is primarily based upon French. Seychellois is the most-spoken official language in the Seychelles, followed by French and English.
87% of the population speaks Seychelles Creole, 51% speaks French, and 38% speaks English.
The Comoros is an island country in the Indian Ocean.
Comorian, Arabic, and French are the official languages of Comoros. Arabic is widely known as a second language, being the language of Quranic teaching. French is the administrative language and the language of all non-Quranic formal education.
Rwanda is a country in Central Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland.
Kinyarwanda, English, French, and Swahili are the official languages of Rwanda.
Kinyarwanda is the national language while English is the primary medium of instruction in secondary and tertiary education. French , which was introduced by Belgium from 1916 and remained an official and widely spoken language after independence in 1962.
Burundi is a landlocked country in East Africa.
The official languages of Burundi are Kirundi, French and English, with Kirundi recognised officially as the sole national language.
A a legacy of Belgian colonial rule, French has an important role in government, business, and the educated classes but only between 3 and 10 percent of the population speak the language fluently.
The country is considered part of Francophonie.
Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the African continent.
English and French are generally considered to be de facto national and common languages of Mauritius, as they are the languages of government administration, courts, and business.
The constitution of Mauritius is written in English, while some laws, such as the Civil code and Criminal code, are in French.
According to the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, 72.7% of the Mauritians were French speakers in 2005.
Gabon is a country on the west coast of Central Africa.
French is the country’s sole official language. It is estimated that 80% of Gabon’s population can speak French, and that 30% of Libreville residents are native speakers of the language.
More than 10,000 French people live in Gabon, and France predominates the country’s foreign cultural and commercial influences. Outside the capital, French is less commonly spoken, though it is used by those who have completed a secondary or university education.
Countries where it’s not a official language
Mauritania, is a country in Northwest Africa. Arabic is the official and national language of Mauritania. French is widely used in the media and among educated classes.
Algeria is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa.
The country is the second-largest Francophone country in the world in terms of speakers, and French is widely used in government, media, the education system and academia due to Algeria’s colonial history.
French can be regarded as a lingua franca of Algeria. In 2008, 11.2 million Algerians could read and write in French. An Abassa Institute study in April 2000 found that 60% of households could speak and understand French or 18 million in a population of 30 million back then.
French has no official status in Algeria and it’s partly because of politics.
Tunisia is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa.
French is not an official language, but it plays a major role in Tunisian society,
French is widely used in education (e.g., as the language of instruction in the sciences in secondary school), the press, and business.
In 2010, there were 6,639,000 French-speakers in Tunisia, or about 64% of the population.
Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco is a country located in the Maghreb region of North Africa.
Within the country, French is widely used in governmental institutions, media, mid-size and large companies, international commerce with French-speaking countries, and often in international diplomacy. French is taught as an obligatory language in all schools.
According to a 2012 study by the Government of Spain, 98% of Moroccans spoke Moroccan Arabic, 63% spoke French, 43% Amazigh, 14% spoke English, and 10% spoke Spanish.
The main foreign languages taught in schools in Egypt, by order of popularity, are English, French, German and Italian.
In 2009-2010 about six million people learned French in Egypt, and this number increased to 8 million in 2013. As of 2014 most persons in Egypt using French have studied it as a foreign language in school.
|1.||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|2.||Republic of the Congo|
|16.||Central African Republic|
Countries Where French is Widely Used