French-Speaking African Countries

Africa was mostly colonized by Britain, France and Portugal during the scramble for Africa and after a prolonged stay in the continent, the colonized nations adopted the colonizers’ language as the official language, hence, there a lot of French-speaking African countries.

It is necessary to note that there is a proportional distribution of those who can speak English, French and Portuguese in accordance with the number and population of territories colonized by these nations.

There are also French-speaking African countries where French is not the primary or official language and some of these countries have joined the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie since membership to this organization does not imply or solely dependent the fact that the member states have to adopt French as the official or primary language of communication.

List of French Speaking Countries in Africa

  1.  Algeria
    2. Benin
    3. Burkina Faso
    4. Burundi
    5. Cameroon
    6. Central African Republic
    7. Chad
    8. Comoros
    9. Congo Brazzaville
    10. Congo Kinshasa
    11. Côte d’Ivoire
    12. Djibouti
    13. Equatorial Guinea
    14. Gabon
    15. Guinea (Conakry)
    16. Madagascar
    17. Mali
    18. Mauritania
    19. Mauritius
    20. Morocco
    21. Niger
    22. Rwanda
    23. Senegal
    24. Seychelles
    25. Togo
    26. Tunisia

French Speaking African Countries and Percentage of People Who Can Speak French

Below is the list of French-speaking countries in Africa where there is the highest percentage of people who speak French:

  • Gabon: 80%
  • Mauritius: 72.7%
  • Côte d’Ivoire: 70%
  • Senegal: 70%
  • São Tomé and Príncipe: 65% (as a foreign language as the official language is Portuguese)
  • Tunisia: 63.6%
  • Guinea: 63.2%
  • Seychelles: 60%
  • Republic of the Congo: 60%
  • Equatorial Guinea: 60%

Note: Algeria was a former part of the bigger metropolitan France and as a matter of fact, the second largest French-speaking African country with 57% of the population speaking French but has since refused to become recognized as a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie due to political tensions with France.

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List of French Speaking Countries in Africa where French is recognized as the official language

Other official languages are also included in bracket:

  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi (another official language: Kirundi)
  • Cameroon (another official language: English)
  • Cape Verde (Portuguese is the main language)
  • Central African Republic (another official language: Sango)
  • Chad (another official language: Arabic)
  • Comoros (other official languages: Shikomor and Arabic)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Djibouti (another official language: Arabic)
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea (other official languages: Spanish and Portuguese)
  • Gabon
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau (the main language is Portuguese)
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Mauritania (French is commonly used)
  • Mauritius (French is commonly used)
  • Morocco (French is commonly used)
  • Niger
  • Rwanda (Rwanda recently changed their official language to English but the older generation still speak French)
  • São Tomé and Príncipe (the main language is Portuguese)
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles (other official languages: English and Creole)
  • Togo
  • Tunisia (French is commonly spoken)
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French-speaking African countries and their capital

Burkina FasoOuagadougou
Central African RepublicBangui
Congo BrazzavilleBrazzaville
Congo KinshasaKinshasa
Côte d’IvoireYamoussoukro
Equatorial GuineaMalabo
Guinea (Conakry)Conakry
MauritiusPort Louis

French-speaking African countries and their presidents

 AlgeriaAbdelaziz Bouteflika (1999–present)
 BeninPatrice Talon (2016-present)
 Burkina FasoRoch Marc Christian Kaboré (2015-present)
 Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza (2005-present)
Cameroon Paul Biya (1982-present)
Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadéra (2016–present)
Chad Idriss Déby (1990-resent)
Comoros Azali Assoumani (2016-present)
Congo Brazzaville Denis Sassou Nguesso (1997-present)
Congo Kinshasa Joseph Kabila (2001-present)
Côte d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara (2010-present)
Djibouti Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (1999–present)
Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (1979–present)
Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba (2009–present)
Guinea (Conakry) Alpha Condé (2010–present)
Madagascar Hery Rajaonarimampianina (2014–present)
Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (2013–present)
Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (2009–present)
Mauritius Ameenah Gurib  (2015–present)
Morocco King Mohammed VI (1999–present)
Niger Mahamadou Issoufou (2011–present)
Rwanda Paul Kagame (2000–present)
Senegal Macky Sall (2012–present)
Seychelles Danny Faure (2016–present)
Togo Faure Gnassingbé (2005–present)
Tunisia Beji Caid Essebs (2014–present)

Some French-speaking countries in West Africa include:

  • Niger
  • Chad
  • Mali
  • Senegal
  • Togo
  • Bénin
  • Cameroon
  • Ivory Coast
  • Guinea Conakry
  • Burkina Faso
  • Mauritania

Among all the French-speaking countries in West Africa mentioned above, Senegalese French is said to be the closest to standard French speech. Cote d’Ivoire, on the other hand, has a spiced up form of speech called “broken French, which is laced with some sort of slang.

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In summary, it’s paramount to note that Africa is the continent with the most French speakers in the world. In most African countries, however, French is spoken alongside indigenous languages but some regions in the continent (eg Gabon, Abidjan, Ivory Coast) speak French as a first language.

French-speaking African countries make use of different varieties of French in general which differ from standard French both in terms of vocabulary and pronunciation.

These varieties of Africa French are categorized into four groups.

    1. West and Central Africa French – (spoken by 75 million people as either a first or second language).
    2. Northwest Africa French (spoken by about 36 million Maghrebis and Berbers people)
    3. The French variety used in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
    4. The French variety used in Creoles in the Indian Ocean (Réunion, Mauritius and Seychelles), which has around 1.6 million first and second language speakers.
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