Top 15 Most Popular Languages in Africa (2024)

Africa is a continent of unparalleled linguistic diversity, with over 2,000 languages spoken across its vast expanse. While each language carries its own cultural heritage and significance, there are certain languages that have emerged as the most popular and widely spoken across the continent. These languages serve as crucial tools of communication, facilitating trade, education, and cultural exchange among diverse African nations. In this article, we will explore the top 15 most popular languages in Africa, showcasing their unique features, and widespread usage, all of which contribute to the vibrant tapestry of Africa’s linguistic landscape.

Top 15 most spoken language in africa 2022

Here are the top 10 most popular languages in Africa.

These are the most popular languages in Africa as of 2024.

1. English

Speakers: Over 250 million

Most spoken language in Africa

Over 237 million people in Africa speak English in total (including native and non-native speakers). The greatest number of English speakers are in Nigeria, where there are about 111 million people who speak at least some of the language.

In Africa, 27 out of 54 countries on the continent speak the English language as their official or secondary language making it the most popular language in Africa. English is the primary language of Botswana, Cameroon, Rwanda, Nigeria, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana. In South Africa, it is given official status with 10 other languages. It is the most spoken language in Africa.

2. Arabic

Speakers: Over 170 million

most popular language in africa

Arabic is the most widespread official language in the African continent and the second most spoken language in Africa. It is the official language of Algeria, Mauritania, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Arabic is the co-official language of Morocco, Eritrea, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Djibouti and Western Sahara. According to wikipedia Of the 1 billion Africans (in 2009), about 17 percent speak an Arabic dialect, making

3. French

Speakers: Over 120 million

most common language in East Africa

Like English, French is one of the most popular language in Africa. Many countries in Africa were colonized by France, because of this, there are over 120 million French speakers who use the language as their mother tongue or secondary language.

The highest percentage of people who speak French are from Gabon, Mauritius, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Sao Tome & Principe, Tunisia, Guinea, Seychelles, Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea.

4. Swahili

Speakers: Over 100 million

most ancient african language

Swahili is the most spoken native language in East Africa. With over 100 million speakers (of the 1 billion Africans, About 10 percent speak Swahili), this ancient language is the fourth most popular language in Africa.

The Swahili is a Bantu language believed to have originated from other languages, mainly Arabic, due to historical interactions between Arabs from the Middle East and East Africans. The Swahili language or Kiswahili is the official language of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

5. Hausa

Speakers: Over 75 million

most commonly spoken language in West africa

Hausa is one of Nigeria’s official languages and it’s the fifth most spoken language in Africa and the most spoken local language in western Africa. The Hausa language has more first-language speakers than any other language in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to wikipedia, the Hausa language has an estimated 25 million first-language speakers, and close to 50 million second-language speakers. The main Hausa-speaking area is northern Nigeria and Niger.

6. Amharic

Speakers: Over 57 million

Language in Ethiopia

Amharic is the sixth most popular language in Africa and serves as the working language of Ethiopia. It’s also the working language of several of the states within the Ethiopian federal system. With 31,800,000 mother-tongue speakers as of 2018, plus another 25,100,000 second language speakers, Amharic is the second most commonly-spoken mother-tongue of Ethiopia (after Oromo), but the most widely spoken in terms of total speakers.

7. Yoruba

Speakers: Over 50 million

Yoruba speakers in Africa

Yoruba is one of West Africa’s most spoken languages, and also one of Nigeria’s official languages.

The Yoruba language is the seventh most commonly spoken language in Africa and itnaccounts for over 50 million speakers in Nigeria, Benin and Togo.

8. Fula / Fulfude

Speakers: Over 40 million

most commonly spoken language in africa

Fula is a Senegambian language spoken by more than 40 million people as a set of various dialects in a continuum that stretches across some 20 countries in West and Central Africa it’s also the eighth most popular language in Africa.

Fulfulde is an official language in Senegal (Pulaar), an official lingua franca in Guinea, Senegambia, Maasina (Inner Niger Delta), northeastern Nigeria , Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Gambia, northern Ghana, southern Niger and northern Benin (in Borgou region, where many speakers are bilingual), and a local language in many African countries, such as Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Togo CAR, Chad, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia, numbering more than 45 millions speakers in total.

9. Oromo

Speakers: over 37 million

Most spoken language in Africa

The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, estimated to be over 37 million people in 2018. The language which is used as a lingua franca particularly in Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya is the ninth most popular language in Africa.

10. Zulu

Speakers: over 28 million

most spoken african language

The Zulu people are the largest ethnic group and nation in South Africa with an estimated 10–12 million people living mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

The language of the Zulu people is “isiZulu”, a Bantu language; more specifically, part of the Nguni subgroup. Zulu is the most widely spoken language in South Africa, where it is an official language. More than half of South Africa’s population are able to understand it, with over 9 million first-language and over 15 million second-language speakers.

Thw language is spoken mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, and also in Mpumalanga, Free State, Gauteng and Eastern Cape provinces. There are also about 328,000 Zulu speakers in Lesotho, 108,000 in Eswatini, 37,500 in Malawi, 4,600 in Botswana and 3,000 in Mozambique.

11. Igbo

Speakers: Over 24 Million

most spoken language in africa 2022

Also One of Nigeria’s official languages, Igbo is spoken by over 24 million people, with a significant amount of speakers in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.

12. Somali

Speakers: Over 21 Million

Most spoken language in Africa Somali is an Afroasiatic language belonging to the Cushitic branch. It is spoken as a mother tongue by Somalis in Greater Somalia and the Somali diaspora. Somali is an official language of Somalia, Somaliland, and Ethiopia, and a national language in Djibouti as well as in northeastern Kenya.

The Somali language is spoken in Somali inhabited areas of Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Yemen and by members of the Somali diaspora. It is also spoken as an adoptive language by a few ethnic minority groups and individuals in Somali majority regions.

As of 2019, there were approximately 21.8 million speakers of Somali, spread in Greater Somalia of which around 7.8 million resided in Somalia. The language is spoken by an estimated 95% of the country’s inhabitants, and also by a majority of the population in Djibouti.

13. Shona

Speakers: Over 14 Million

English speakers in Africa

With over 14 million speakers, shona is the most widely spoken home language in Zimbabwe (Spoken by nearly 80% of the population) making it one of the most popular languages in Africa.

14. Xhosa

Speakers: Over 11 Million

Xhosa speakers

isiXhosa as an endonym, is a Nguni language and one of the official languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Xhosa is spoken as a first language by approximately 8.2 million people and by another 3 million as a second language in South Africa, mostly in Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng and Northern Cape. It has perhaps the heaviest functional load of click consonants in a Bantu language (approximately tied with Yeyi), with one count finding that 10% of basic vocabulary items contained a click.

15. Wolof

Speakers: Over 10 Million

most spoken language in africa 2021Wolof is a language of Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania, and the native language of the Wolof people. The language is spoken by more than 10 million people and about 40 percent (approximately 5 million people) of Senegal’s population speak Wolof as their native language. In The Gambia, about 20–25 percent of the population speak Wolof as a first language making it the fifteenth most commonly spoken language in Africa, making it one of the most popular languages in africa.

16. Akan

Speakers: Over 11 Million

most spoken language in africa 2022

Akan is a Central Tano language and the principal native language of the Akan people of Ghana, spoken over much of the southern half of Ghana. About 80% of Ghana’s population can speak Akan, and about 44% of Ghanaians are native speakers. It is also spoken in parts of Côte d’Ivoire and Togo making it one of the most popular languages in Africa.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Where is the Portuguese language Angola 75%, Moçambique 50%, Guiné Bissau 14%, Cape Verde 71%, Santo Tomé and Principe 95% !!!!!

  2. Oromo (Afaan Oromoo) language! You mentioned as only spoken by Oromoo’s in Oromia region in Ethiopia, which Oromo population is approximately greater than 37 millions. But it also spoken by Oromo’s(indigenous to) in other regional states in Ethiopia as first language like wolo and south gojam zones in Amhara region, Matabele in Benishangulgumuz regionRaya’s in Tigray region, in almost all southern Ethiopian regions as 2nd language. It also spoken by native Oromo tribes in neighboring countries like gadabursi Oromo tribe in western Somaliland, Giri Oromo tribe in Somalia, Borana & Gari in north kenya Ormas tribe in south kenya and north Tanzania. please go to those places and check the fact, beside getting info from gov’ts & other 2ndry sources!

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