Africa is second largest and second most populous continent in the world with a total population of 1.111 billion. So its no surprise that The total number of languages natively spoken in Africa is estimated at between 1,250 to 2,100 and by some counts at “over 3,000”.
Nigeria alone has one of the highest concentrations of linguistic diversity in the world with over 500 languages. The people of this large continent also use a wide variety of sign languages.
Here are the top 10 most spoken languages in Africa.
1. English (Over 700 million Speakers)
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 (More Than 170 million Speakers)
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.
3. French (More than 120 million Speakers)
Like English, French is one of the very few languages spoken all over the world. 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 (About 100 million Speakers)
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). It 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 (More than 75 million Speakers)
Hausa is one of Nigeria’s official languages, 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. Oromo (More than 35 million Speakers)
The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, estimated to be over 35 million people in 2016. You will also find people who speak this language in Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Kenya.
7. Yoruba (More than 30 million Speakers)
Yoruba is one of West Africa’s most spoken languages, and also one of Nigeria’s official languages.
The language accounts for over 30 million speakers in Nigeria, Benin and Togo.
8. Amharic (More Than 28 million Speakers)
Amharic is the second most spoken Semitic language (after Arabic) in the world. It is the official working language of Ethiopia. More than 28 million people speak Amharic in Africa.
9. Igbo (More than 24 million Speakers)
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.
10. Shona (More than 14 million Speakers)
With over 14 million speakers, shona is the most widely spoken bantu language. Zulu is the second most widely spoken Bantu language with 10.3 million speakers according to wikipedia.
Shona is the home language in Zimbabwe (Spoken by nearly 80% of the population).