Facts, Popular

Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in Africa

Africa is second largest and second most populous continent in the world with a total population of 1.111 billion.

African languages belong to one of the four language families: Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo and Khoisan. Around 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa. Nigeria alone has 250 languages, one of the greatest concentrations of linguistic diversity in the world. The people of this large continent also use a wide variety of sign languages.

Here are the top 10 most spoken languages in Africa.

10) Zulu (Speakers in Africa: More than 10 million)

Zulu (IsiZulu) is used in the Eastern part of South Africa. Its tongue clicks are unique. The language is written with Latin characters. It is used widely in the South African media. According to Ethnologue, Zulu is the second most spoken Bantu language after Shona.


9) Amharic (Speakers in Africa: 18.7 million)

Amharic is the second most spoken Semitic language (after Arabic) in the world. It is the official working language of Ethiopia. Outside Ethiopia, Amharic is the language of around 2.7 million emigrants. More than 18.7 million people speak Amharic in Africa.


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  1. 1

    your info about Amharic, the second widely spoken Semitic language after Arabic, is incorrect, by 2007 it used to have more than 20 million speakers who use it as a first language. By now , undoubtfully its speakers could never be less than 30 million. Since it is the official and business language of Ethiopia, its speakers as a second language would be no less than this, though there is no official stat about the number of speakers who use Amharic as a second language, but almost all urban dwellers and anyone who finished a high school could speak it.

    • 2

      The Oromo language, Afaan Oromo, is widely spoken within Ethiopia and it is Africa’s fourth widely spoken language after Hausa, Arabic and Swahili with more than 40 million speakers ( in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea). The stat needs to be evidenced but Amharic as a national language and therefore widely spoken is misleading since Ethiopia does not have a national language after it adopted a Federal state structure. Amharic is not a national language but only a working language for the Federal government , Amhara regional state, Benishangul regional state and for some zones of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State. Besides, not anyone who finished a high school could speak it! There are many people from regions where Amharic is not the working language who can not speak it. Amharic as a single course may be given leading to basic/elementary communication skills but generalizing anyone who finished a high school could speak it also misleading. 🙂

  2. 3

    I think you need correction: Native speakers for Amharic are 27 Million, however it is spoken by more than 85 Million people in Ethiopia out of its about 100 Million people, because it is the national language. Oromo is spoken by about 37 Million native people and about 40 Million people speak the language in the whole country. And also I see Somali nowhere which is spoken by close to 20 Million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

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    In Uganda people don’t know swahili it’s only English which is official but it’s only Luganda as the indigenous language spoken in almost each part of the country and its the most language used on media plus primary schools

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    It is the report of Galla who only want to undermine amharic language.Amharic is the mother tounge for at least 32 milion people in Ethiopia as well it is the second language for every Ethiopia.Outside Ethiopia it is spoken by at least 4million people like in usa.Any how at least 80 million people can speak amharic globally. By the way it is the only language in africa which has it’s own writing system and letter… we work to make amharic the recognized language in the world!!

    • 10

      @Mengistu don’t be emotional,,if you want i will make it 100%,,but,we only focus on the reality that Afaan Oromo is the third largest language in Africa following Kiswahili and Hausa; 4th largest language, if Arabic is counted as Africa language .

  7. 11

    Your comments about Zulu also need a bit of refinement. “Its tongue clicks are unique” is not actually correct. As far as I know, there are no Tongue clicks in Zulu, but Xhosa, a closely related language language is know for its unique clicks.

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    The isiZulu language is not only spoken in one region in Southern Africa, it’s spoken even in western parts of Zimbabwe so more than 16 million people use isiZulu as their mother tongue

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    How can you not include Hausa as one of the mostly spoken languages in Africa. Because more than 35million of people use Hausa Fulani as their mother tongue.

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