Africa is contributing 47.7 percent (143.1 million) to the French-speaking population thereby making French a global language. 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), French has become the world’s fifth most spoken language as 300 million people in five continents speak the French language. Moving a step up from its previous sixth position, the French language which is ranked behind Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic has so many speakers thanks to the millions of Africans who speak the language daily.
In the last four years, the number of people speaking French has increased by almost 9.6 percent . The report which noted that the centre of gravity of the Francophonie is moving south added that between 2010 and 2018, 22.7 million more people speak French. 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.
In total, out of the 300 million Francophonies, 34.8 percent live in Sub-Saharan Africa, 12.9 percent live in the Middle East and North Africa, 43.9 percent live in Western Europe, 1.8 percent live in the Central and Eastern part of Europe. North America, Latin America and the Carribean is home to 6 percent while 0.6 percent people live in Asia and Oceania.
The French language is gaining momentum globally because it is taught as a foreign language in schools around the world. Currently French is the second most widely learned foreign language in the world, with 132 million students and over 500,000 teachers. French is also the main language of instruction in schools in Benin, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
French is also taught at establishments run by France’s cultural network abroad (Instituts Français and Alliance Française schools). There are over 481 cultural network establishments of the French school network’s abroad providing French education according to France’s national curriculum.
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 10. 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.
Top 7 French Speaking Countries in Africa
In no particular order of appearance these are the top fFrench speaking countries in Africa.
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.
Niger has 11 official languages, with French being the official language.
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.