French goes from strength to strength in Africa

November 05, 2014

Two women holding hands in friendship

The french language is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world and it is the official language of 29 independent nations. A recent report predicts that French will continue to grow in prominence in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The french link to Africa continues to grow. There are many historical links and the number of french citizens based in Africa in 2010 was nearly 225,000. Even more impressive are the advances being made by the french language. French is the 5th most spoken language in the world, with 274 speakers across 5 continents according to a recent report of the International Organisation of Francophonie. This number of french speakers in 2015 has strongly increased from the 220 million estimated in 2010. It must be remembered that the definition of francophone is fluid. Of the 274 million francophones, only 212 million use the language daily. Nevertheless, this is a surprisingly strong increase.

What are the reasons?

The french language is benefiting from the demographic growth of Sub-Saharan Africa. High quality teaching in French has allowed a number of countries to increase the number of French speakers, notably Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, the Congo, Gabon and Senegal.

Official Reports on French in Africa

In a report to François Hollande, Jacques Attali in a report entitled “La francophonie et la francophilie, moteurs de croissance durable” warned of the need for increased infrastructure to assist in teaching in French in Africa.

The International Organisation of Francophonie estimated that 49 million students are learning French as a foreign language. It predicts that in 2050 there will be 715 million French speakers, of whom 85% will be African.