Africa is one of the most popular continents of the world. It is also the second-largest continent. Its area is almost 30.3 million square kilometers. Additionally, there are 2000 plus languages in Africa. This continent where 1.216 billion people live belongs to multiple native groups and tribes. There are 54 different states in Africa, consisting of a wide range of languages. In short, it’s very difficult to calculate speakers of languages in Africa. One can easily observe that no one is aware of the exact figure of African languages.
Anyways, there are some colonial languages in Africa as well. We cannot ignore these colonial languages. The states of Morocco also belong to Africa. In these countries, people use French and Arabic parlances. Moreover, in South Africa, there are nearly eleven official languages? Adding to this, several islands in Africa are larger than many other countries of the world.
Let’s come to the point. The question is? Considering there are countless countries with African languages, why is it difficult to know which languages are mostly spoken in Africa? Some of the complications are described below;
People speak multiple languages in each state
Firstly, in African states, there is more than one official language. Some people think there are up to eleven official languages in Africa, out of which few are commonly used by the public. For instance, Tanzania’s national language is Swahili. As a result, Swahili has become a school language of the state.
Public use Swahili for government and business affairs in the area, as well. This identical pattern can be easily seen around the continent. Shortly speaking, a majority of African states use various official languages.
People use many dialects to understand each other
Secondly, Africans use multiple dialects to understand each other. For instance, it would be stupid to say that Arabic is a single and big language. It is obvious for two Arabic speakers from different states to use standard Arabic or to slow down the conversation. Likewise, the Swahili language consists of some smaller dialects. These dialects perform mutually and comprehensively when they are used practically.
It is hard to count the exact number owing to fake reports
Thirdly, another difficulty in calculating speakers of African languages is that it is hard to come by the numbers. For example, in Egypt, one can say that anyone living there speaks Egyptian Arabic. But the truth is, owing to the large number of undocumented migrants in Egypt, it is impossible to count the exact number. Additionally, Egyptian Arabic is not an official language. Therefore, no one counts its speakers.
In short, Africa is a large and varied continent. But there are 16 most spoken languages in Africa. These are quite common in every city of this continent and are discussed below;
16 Most spoken languages in Africa
Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is a native language. It is a Bantu language with more than 150 million African speakers. Swahili is an official language of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Congo, Mozambique, and Burundi. Owing to its history and a large number of speakers, Swahili is quite famous in the whole of Africa.
Swahili, a trade language, is well known because of its historical background. This language provides great assistance in developing communications between the people of East and South Africa. Unlike other languages, Swahili successfully maintained its position from the past to the present. In conclusion, Swahili is an African language that needs no introduction.
Besides, Swahili is also the official language of Kenya. For people outside Africa, it is commonly known as a second language. Institutes teach this language too. Swahili indeed consists of some Arabic scripts from the past. In short, the presence of the Swahili language in and out of the continent helps in attracting many people for doing business.
In Africa, the presence of the Arabic language is a surprise to many people. Still, more than 100 million Africans are Arabic speakers. As a result, Arabic is one of the most spoken languages in Africa. Additionally, it is an official language of North Africa, Djibouti, Egypt, Algeria, Chad, Mauritania, Comoros, Morocco, and Libya. There are almost 62% Arabic speakers in the continent.
A European language, French came to Africa during the period of colonization. Today, French is a part of 26 African countries. Ivory Coast, Gabon, Sao Tome e Principe, Mauritius, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Seychelles and Abidjan largely speak French language. Above all, in Africa, there are almost 90 million French speakers.
Another most spoken language of Africa is Hausa. It is the official language of Nigeria. In Africa, more than 50 million people use Hausa as their first language. Moreover, there are states such as, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo, Ghana, Chad, and Cameroon that prefer to communicate in the Hausa language.
It’s because; Hausa works best in trade, doing business, and in commerce. Especially businesses taking place in West Africa and areas across Nigeria. Additionally, owing to its literature, Hausa is a part of International Educational Universities today.
Yoruba is known as the chief language in Nigeria. It consists of more than 30 million speakers in Togo, Nigeria, and Benin. Moreover, people of the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Liberia commonly use Yoruba in their daily life. Because of the large number of speakers, it is very famous in Africa.
The successor of the Cushitic language is the Oromo language. There are almost 30 million people who speak the Oromo language across Africa. It is also spoken in Ethiopia, Egypt, Africa, Somalia, and Kenya. The Oromo language is largely used in these areas. Over 40% of the Ethiopian people are Oromo speakers.
Igbo is the local language of the Igbo community. It is also another official language of Nigeria. More than 24 million people use Igbo, in Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. Furthermore, it consists of more than 20 descendants and dialects of the Volta-Niger branch, belonging to the Niger-Congo family of language. People of Igbo are the biggest ethnic group in Africa.
Amharic is one of the most broadly spoken languages in Africa. There are almost 3 million immigrants and nearly 25 million native speakers of this language, in the continent. Above all, after Ethiopia and the Arabic language, it consists of the 2nd biggest Semitic dialect in the whole of Africa. As a result, Ethiopian literature, novels, journals, and poetry are at the top today. Unlike other languages, Amharic has its own alphabets. However, the majority of languages use the alphabets of Latin and Arabic languages.
Zulu is a short form of IsiZulu. It is the official language of South Africa. It belongs to the Nguni/Bantu family of languages. There are over 10 million speakers of the Zulu language in Africa. Additionally, it is the second most widely spoken language after Shona. The Zulu language uses Latin alphabets for writing. This is because the Khoisan language influences the Zulu language.
The Shona language belongs to the Bantu family of languages. There are more than 10 million Shona speakers in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, it is the official language of Zimbabwe as well. But, Ndebele and English are the primary languages of Zimbabwe. Shona is the local language for the people of Shona.
They live in South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, and Botswana as well. There are more than 2 to 15 million people who practice Shona as a 2nd language. The words and terminology of Shona belong to the Swahili language. Meaning thereby it is quite easy to learn it. Today, a majority of people speak it in Africa.
A majority of people speak English in Africa. There are various English-speaking countries in Africa. In addition to that, it is the official language of South Africa, Namibia, Rwanda, Burundi, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Lesotho, Kenya, Malawi, Liberia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sudan, Botswana, Cameroon, and Swaziland.
There are about 6.5 M million Africans who communicate in English. As a result, English is now a part of education in countless institutions in many states. Governments of many countries also prefer English. More than 130 million speakers use it as a 2nd language on the continent. It is also true that states, where English is an official language, not even 1% of speakers, can speak it properly.
West African Pidgin English
There are about 75 million speakers of West African Pidgin English. Generally, no one uses it for writing. But the BBC recently has developed its written form. It is wise for any businessman to use West African Pidgin if he is targeting the West African audience.
Portuguese is the official language of Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe. The Portuguese colonies largely speak this language. Additionally, in Africa, it is one of the most spoken languages in the continent.
More than 25 million people are Fulani speakers. Fulani is the official language of Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Togo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea (Conakry), Faso Burkina, Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. The short form of Fulani language is Fula, Pulaar, Pular, or Fulfulde. In 24 different states in Central and West Africa, more than 24 million people speak the Fulani language. We can observe some Latin scripts and alphabets in the Fulani language. Moreover, this language takes some words from the Arabic language.
Berber is 6000 plus years old language. In Africa, Berber is also largely spoken. Moreover, it deeply influences Moroccan Arabic. In Morocco, people of Berber naturally use a mixture of both Arabic and Berber languages, which is identical to Spanglish.
Somali belongs to the Cushitic family of languages which is identical to the Oromo language. It consists of almost 21 million speakers in Africa. In Somalia Arabic and Somali both are official languages. In short, Somali is one of those languages which are enjoying the status of an official language.
By observing the list and discussion of African languages, it can be concluded that Africa comprises a combination of various languages. But every language is different from another. A political impact, rising arrival of immigrants, and laws of Africa have been unable to affect the number of most spoken languages in Africa. This is why you should hire a professional language service if you want to learn the African language. This is because even today, this continent is still one of the biggest continents in the world. Your business is likely to flourish in this region.