The French language has approximately 80 million native speakers, as well as 190 million secondary speakers, meaning that around 270 million people speak the language worldwide. It is an official language in 29 countries, with most of these being part of the community of French-speaking nations known as la francophonie. It is estimated that around 12 percent of the European Union’s population speaks French as a mother tongue, making it the fourth most widely-spoken European language.
Furthermore, 20 percent of EU citizens report knowing how to speak French, making it the third most understood language in the continent. With that being said, the language’s reach extends far beyond Europe and, in actual fact, the largest share of the world’s French-speaking population reside in Africa
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.
List of French Speaking Countries in Africa
- 3. Burkina Faso
6. Central African Republic
9. Congo Brazzaville
10. Congo Kinshasa
11. Côte d’Ivoire
13. Equatorial Guinea
15. Guinea (Conakry)
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.