French Language in Africa

Countries usually considered as Francophone Africa. These countries had a population of 335 million in 2009. Their population is projected to reach between 684 million and 719 million in 2050. Countries sometimes considered as Francophone Africa majority of the world’s French-speaking population lives in Africa. According to the 2007 report by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, an estimated 115 million African people spread across 31 Francophone African countries can speak French as either a first or a second language.

French is mostly a second language in Africa, but it has become a first language in some areas, such as the region of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and in Libreville, Gabon. It is not possible to speak of a single form of African French, but rather of diverse forms of African French which have developed because of the contact with many indigenous African languages. In the territories of the Indian Ocean, the French language is often spoken alongside French-derived creole languages, the major exception being Madagascar. There, a Malayo-Polynesian language (Malagasy) is spoken alongside French. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region where the French language is most likely to expand, because of the expansion of education and rapid demographic growth. It is also where the language has evolved the most in recent years. Some vernacular forms of French in Africa can be difficult to understand for French speakers from other countries, but written forms of the language are very closely related to those of the rest of the French-speaking world.