Languages most spoken in Africa; home to the most diverse languages in the world



Africa leads the world when it comes to linguistic diversity; over 1500 different languages are spoken in the continent.

Leading National languages or rather official languages include Arabic, French and English. The Arabic language has over 100 million speakers in Africa with a more than half of the number being found in Egypt followed by Algeria, Tunisia, Libya among others.

English is a widely spoken language in the world and so in Africa as well  with major native English speakers in South Africa and mostly spoken in Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda and Zimbabwe reports

Apart from these three languages here is a list of top 10 languages that one would benefit in knowing to facilitate traveling or doing business in Africa. The list according to

  1. Swahili

Swahili is the most spoken language in Africa, with over 100 million speakers. Swahili is Tanzania’s official language, as well as the medium of instruction in all schools. It is also Kenya’s official language as well as Uganda. Other Swahili speaking nations include Rwanda, Burundi, southern Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan northern Mozambique and the Comoros Islands.

  1. Amharic

Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia and is the second most spoken language in the country after Oromo, with over 21 million speakers. and is also the language of over 2 million Ethiopians living outside of the country.

  1. Yoruba

Yoruba is one of West Africa’s most spoken languages, accounting for over 30 million speakers in Nigeria, Benin and Togo, and it is one of Nigeria’s official languages. It is also widely spoken by West African expats in the US and UK.

  1. Oromo

Oromo is spoken by over 30 million people in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Egypt. The Oromo people account for more than 40% of the Ethiopian population, and are the largest ethnic group in the country.

  1. Hausa

Hausa is one of Nigeria’s official languages, and one of the most spoken Chadic languages on the continent, with over 40 million native and second language speakers. It is spoken mainly in northern Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Germany, Ghana, Sudan, Togo and much of North Africa.

  1. Igbo

One of Nigeria’s official languages, Igbo is spoken by over 20 million people, with a significant amount of speakers in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. The language has more than 20 dialects, with Central Igbo being the most prevalent.

  1. Zulu

IsiZulu, or Zulu, is one of South Africa’s official language, and has over 10 million speakers. It  is spoken mainly in eastern South Africa.

  1. Shona

Shona is the most spoken language in Zimbabwe, with over 10 million speakers in a population of over 14 million.

  1. Portuguese

Portuguese is the official language of six African states, including Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome e Principe and Equatorial Guinea. There are approximately 14 million people who use Portuguese as their mother tongue on the continent, and over 30 million secondary speakers.

  1. French

Twenty-six African states form part of Francophone Africa, forming part of the top French-speaking countires on the continent. 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 e Principe, Tunisia, Guinea, Seychelles, Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea. The second largest French speaking country is Algeria, with over 50 percent of the population being French speakers. Much of the central and western Africa states form part of Francophone Africa, including Morocco, Mauritania, Rwanda, Comoros and Djibouti

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