What African Country Has The Largest Population – English is the most spoken language in the world. Western travelers often assume a global understanding of English, but this is far from the case, especially in Africa. According to Business Insider, only 130 million of the nearly 1 billion people in Africa speak English. Skill levels vary greatly from country to country.
However, the 2021 Global English Proficiency Analysis published by EF Education First reveals that many individual African countries have significantly higher levels of formal or extensive proficiency in English. Others show significant progress since the organization was first surveyed in 2011.
What African Country Has The Largest Population
Here is a look at the top English-speaking countries in Africa whose populations use English to communicate together in corporate, government, tourism, diplomatic and educational environments.
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South Africa undoubtedly ranks first in the list of English-speaking countries in Africa based on the Education First EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) 2021. English is one of the country’s 11 official languages, with approximately 28% of residents speaking English as their first language. Like many African countries, it was probably influenced by former British colonialism.
South Africa’s major cities have the largest concentrations of English-speaking residents, including Johannesburg. Known as Jozi, it is the largest city in the country and one of the 100 largest urban areas in the world. More than 50% of Johannesburg residents speak Sotho and Ngoni at home, but a relatively small 18% speak English.
Originating from the British presence in the late 19th century and colonization in the 1920s, Kenya maintains a high level of English proficiency. The country teaches English in public schools, increasing fluctuating levels of English use to around 30-50% of the population. This is especially important in urban centers including the capital Nairobi, the coastal suburbs of Mombasa and the bustling port city of Kisumu.
Both Swahili and English serve as the official national languages in Kenya and are also considered “lingua franca”, a practice where people of different mother tongues adopt a common language to communicate on a daily or professional level. Visitors to this East African country note the different dialects of “British English” and “Kenyan English”, both of which continue to be spoken for decades, even after the end of colonialism.
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Just a few places below Kenya in the EF EPI, Nigeria is the largest English-speaking country in Africa. Estimates place over 110 million Nigerians who speak at least English. Although Hausa is the most widely spoken language in Nigeria, English is still the only official language. In addition, there are thousands of native languages and dialects among the over 213 million inhabitants of this East African country.
In Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and seat of government, many residents speak English, especially outside the home. Although the main local language in Lagos is Yoruba, English is important due to the city’s financial center and cultural institutions. Other major cities such as Kano and Ibadan are home to small English-speaking neighborhoods, particularly those with greater concentrations of entertainment, dining, and cultural attractions.
Variations in English include Nigerian English, a traditional and native version of British English that was introduced during colonial times. Nigerian Creole has its own distinct language consisting of French-inspired phrases spiced with African words and dialects.
Although EF EPI classifies Ghana as a country with a “moderate” level of English proficiency, more than half of the 28 million inhabitants of this West African country speak some form of English. English joins 9-11 other state-recognised languages and 50-80 indigenous languages. English is the only official language and specifically designed for official and educational purposes. But it is also widely accepted
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Located on the country’s Atlantic coast, Accra serves as the country’s capital and is the largest English-speaking city in Ghana. It is easy to speak English on the beaches along the sea and in trendy restaurants, hotels and nightclubs.
Many African countries, including Tunisia, show verifiable improvement in EF EPI English. This is often attributed to the younger generation embracing a wide range of cultural contacts, but Tunisia’s proximity to European countries also contributes to its desire for multilingualism. Those who want to expand their language skills choose English, French, Italian and Turkish.
As an Arab country, the official language is Literary Arabic, but many speak a common version called Tunisian Arabic. Berber languages include minority languages and deeply rooted local languages.
Ethiopia is relatively low on the list of English-speaking countries in Africa. As one of the few African countries ever formally colonized, it maintains over 90 indigenous languages, including the widespread Amharic and Oromo languages.
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Amharic is the official working language in the capital, Addis Ababa, but English is the most widely spoken foreign language for international business, trade and cultural communication. Private schools in Addis Ababa and other cities are conducive to the development of the English language among the young generation and the educated community. Ethiopia was “occupied” by Italy for about five years in the mid-1930s and also had an Italian-speaking population.
Although Swahili and English share the name of “official language” in Tanzania, at least 90 percent of Tanzania’s 54 million people speak Swahili. Only about 4 million people are fluent in English.
The exception is Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar, which is a major tourist destination for English-speaking travelers. Many guides and people working in hotels, restaurants and shops speak English, French and Italian well. In the capital city of Dodoma, government agencies treat English as a priority, and schools start learning English after seven years of primary school.
In the south-eastern African country of Mozambique, the official language is Portuguese, a remnant of colonialism after 1961. However, many locals use it as a language.
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Instead of your primary or preferred language. English is mostly spoken in tourist and coastal areas with a concentration of hotels, as well as in major port cities such as Beira and the capital Maputo.
As a member of the United Nations Commonwealth, Mozambique has an interest in maintaining a population of residents who speak English as at least a second language. In addition, the country is a member of the African Union, which maintains English as the official language of communication.
As one of the most visited countries in North Africa, Morocco surprisingly has a relatively small 15% of the population who are fluent in conversational English. The official languages are Arabic and Berber, and French is popular as the preferred foreign language among locals and tourists alike.
In major cities and tourist destinations, including Marrakesh, major attractions such as kasbahs and botanical gardens are staffed by English-speaking staff, such as hotel and restaurant staff. The port city of Casablanca and the seaside resort of Agadir are sure bets on being fluent in English, at least for those in the hospitality industry.
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Based on test results from the EF English Proficiency Index 2021, Algeria has the fastest growing number of English speakers in the world. It still ranks just 75th out of 112 countries, staying in the “low proficiency” range, but the recent popular move towards English is promising for those who consider it important. Tourism in Algeria has historically been low, but Algiers, the capital of the Mediterranean coast, caters to some business travelers and clients with the promise of better communication in English.
French is still the foreign language taught in schools instead of English starting in 1830 under France’s 132-year colonial rule in Algeria. Arabic and Berber are designated official languages in Algeria.
Although the official languages of Madagascar have changed several times since the end of French colonialism, the other two are Malagasy and French. English was briefly included as a third official language, but was removed by voters on January 21
Madagascar is considered a “Francophone” country where French is the dominant language in academic government circles. However, English is widely used in international business and tourism. Although English is rarely spoken as a first language in Madagascar, the capital, Antananarivo, as well as Antananarivo and Tulare are home to groups of English-speaking residents. International travelers and expats in city centers often use English as the common language for communication.
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Along with other North African countries such as Algeria and Tunisia, Egypt is showing a significant increase in the percentage of English speakers. In EF, EPI moved up one notch from 112 to 85. Among English-speaking countries in Africa, however, Egyptians still largely reject English as their preferred language.
Most Egyptians speak one of two official languages, Modern Standard Arabic and Modern Written Arabic. English has been taught in public schools since independence from Britain in 1952, so its use has gradually increased over the decades. It is especially popular in Cairo and across the country by educated Egyptians as well as those involved in business or international relations.
In addition to the African countries indicated in the EF EPI, many others
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