10+ African Countries that Speak English

People might wonder if any countries in Africa speak English? Yes, Africa is the motherland of over 1 billion people, and there are 130 million who speak English. In English-speaking African countries, there are about 6.5 million native English speakers.

Along with diversity comes a large number of languages. Millions of Africans speak local dialects such as Yoruba, Oromo, Swahili, Igbo, and Hausa. As a result of the consequences of British colonization, some English-speaking African countries utilize the language as a primary, official, or secondary language.

A Brief History English in the African Continent

A little history about People in African countries speaking English is quite interesting. In the 18th century, the English language started its journey from South Africa

In Africa, applied linguistics and African Studies are in both disciplines in all literature on English. The English language has established a connection between the local folks and the globe.

The region of Africa has a population of roughly 460 million who speak more than 2,000 languages. People in African countries speak English as an official language of the African Union (AU) and an international language; English is vital for the African Continent. One of the stretches where English is most accessible in Africa is likely entertainment and the media. 

Several people in African countries speak English as a lingua franca. Then it makes power relations for both local and international communication. From history, English Speaking Countries in Africa apprehended the need for means of social promotion. 

Although the languages spoken in Africa are primarily multilingual. In Africa, people speak the English language for professional wealth.

People generally prefer the English language with anyone non- African. In Africa, people speaking the English language can also quickly learn Swahili. Many educated people in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia speak fluent English. People also study in both languages, either French or English. 

African Countries also have other primary languages. Some countries of Africa have an official language for education, government, and business purposes. Most people talk in English, and many users of Igbo speakers preferably use English at a conversational level.

Africans connect in English and French to a much broader global stage. Nonetheless, this allocates work and immigration that would have been tough otherwise. Countries in the African continent that speak English include Zimbabwe, Uganda, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, South Africa, and Nigeria. It is always comfortable to understand whenever speaking the English language in Africa. 

Countries that were under British Colony are now members of the Commonwealth. These countries have English as the non-native official language. Now, most African Countries use this language as the official language of the African Union and during AU summits for international communication. 


Top 10 African Countries that Speak English 

Africa is the second-largest continent in the world. There are 54 countries in Africa, and the population is now shooing over 1.3 billion. It has been considered the hub of diverse languages for a long time. You might be wondering if there are any English-speaking countries there?

Yes, 24 African countries speak English. 

If we look at the report of the World Linguistic Society, Uganda is considered to be the best English-speaking country in Africa. The name of this report is “Uganda at the top.” It has been found in the report that most people in Uganda can understand the English language compared to any other English-speaking country in Africa.

Meanwhile, twenty-three other African countries use English as an official language except Rwanda and Eritrea. There are still anglophone countries in Africa that make it to the list because of the remnants of the colonization. 

1. Uganda

English has been the official language of Uganda since independence during the colonial period of 1962. It doesn’t guarantee that it is being used everywhere in the country. It was considered to connect to the higher social class, status, and prestige. In other words, it is an official language, more of a national language. 

How many speak English depends on the number of people who have gone to school. The use of the English Language has increased the concept of Universal Primary Education in Uganda. This country is full of diversity and has a population of 45 million. More than 29 million of its total population speak English. 

According to the UBOS/ Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the country’s total population falls under the 10–65yrs cohort. It means two-thirds of Ugandans can communicate in English. It ranks number one among English-speaking countries in Africa. Furthermore, it is a multilingual country that has 43 living languages.


2. Zambia

Zambia has more than 70 indigenous languages and dialects. Several major languages among them belong to the Bantu family. English is the official language of Zambia, and English is used in official works, business and education. People of Zambia prefer signs and official documentation in the English language and Nyanja language.

Zambia is located in the southern part of Africa, and it has 18 million of a housing population. Nyanja is the primary local language in Zambia. The British government made English the official language during colonial rule. As the level of literacy increases, the number of English-speaking people is also rising. 

Since that time, it has been used in work, media, and business. English is spoken as a first language by only 2% of the population. Most people can either speak or understand the English language with little extra effort. Those who live in urbanization can speak English fluently. 


3. South Africa

There are not so many South Africa who speak English as their first language. Usually, old black people did not speak English because they grew up during the de facto Lingua Franca. They prefer the Zulu language instead of learning English. They thought that English was not beneficial for them. 

According to the latest data of the StatsSA General Household Survey, Zulu is South Africa’s most spoken language. Only 4.7 million of 56 million South African households speak in English. It is just 8.4% of the total population of the country. There are eleven official languages in the country, and English is the sixth number. 

In the current scenario, the tables are turning in South Africa. English is becoming the unofficial lingua franca of the country. The number of English-speaking people has increased. Most young and middle-aged people can speak general English. It is the result of the government’s education policies. Media also plays a crucial role in raising the number of English-speaking people.


4. Nigeria

Nigeria is the fourth-best African country that speaks English. It is a multilingual country which is consisting various ethnic groups. These groups have created a complex landscape through their historical, cultural, and educational developments. 

The country claims a population of 206 million. English is the official language, and 79 million people can speak it. It is about 53% of the total population of Nigeria. The English spoken by Nigerians is known as Nigerian Standard English. In addition, informal communication exists in other languages like Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Fula, and English Creole

The British empire colonized Nigeria, and it was a British colony as well. They made English an official language. Although, it is a multi-ethnic nation that has more than five hundred ethnic tribes and languages. Even after many years of independence from the British, Nigeria still used English as the national language. 

Since the country is a multi-ethnic nation with about 500+ ethnic tribes and languages, several feared that prioritizing one indigenous language over another would lead to anarchy. 


5. Kenya

Kenya is among those African languages which have two well-known languages. Swahili is the national language of Kenya. At the same time, English is the official language made by the British. Around the 1800s, the English language was adopted by the people of Kenya. It was the time of the colonial rule of the British. The language is still in use. The British left an enduring legacy behind them. Now, it remains the primary language of a large country segment.

Kenya ranks in the top five on the list of English-speaking countries in Africa. The country has several ethnic groups with a 54 million population. People speak their local languages. However, about 2.7 million people in Kenya speak the English language. Being the official language, it is the medium of education in school and business. Although, multiple local languages have been around for ages.


6. Zimbabwe

When it comes to listing the English-speaking countries in Africa, Zimbabwe ranks well. In urban areas of the country like Harare and Bulawayo, most people speak the English Language. However, the more significant portion of the country is based on ethnicity. English is not the mother tongue of Zimbabweans, but they are proficient speakers.

Zimbabwe comes on the seventh number in the list of the African countries that speak English.  Zimbabwe has 16 official languages. These all are indigenous languages that are members of the Bantu family. In addition, Shona is spoken by 70% of the Zimbabwean population. It can be considered the lingua franca of Zimbabwe. 

Zimbabwe has a population of 14.8 million. You might be surprised to know that only 5% of Zimbabweans are native English speakers. But more than 89% of the total population can speak English fluently. It is the official language of Zimbabweans. It is used to conduct business, government documents, and education.


7. Ghana

Ghana is located in the Western part of the Africa region. Like other West African countries, English is also the official language of Ghana. It comes on the seventh number in the list of English-speaking countries in Africa. Twi is the most spoken language in the country. In addition, Ghana has 11 different languages with various accents.

In the past decades, English was the language of business and formal communication. Nowadays, the literacy level has increased. The country’s population is around 31 million, and 66.67% of the total population are fluent English speakers. Ghana has 77.2% adults, and the adult literacy rate is 76%.

However, people who are not literate also have an excellent command of the English language. The number of literate people in Ghana is around 79%. The heavy tone of Pidgin might confuse you. This tone is due to the colonization by the British empire. 


8. Malawi

Malawi is the eighth number in the list of English-speaking countries in Africa. It is located in the Southern region of Africa. Like other African countries, English is the official language of Malawi. English was introduced to Malawians during the colonial era

However, reports state that only 4 percent of the total population in Malawi can speak English. These English speakers are above the age of 14. Only well-educated Malawians can communicate in English, and they are minimal in number. The total population of Malawi is 19 million.

Although English is the official language, Chichewa is spoken in every corner of Malawi. It is the national language as well. Chichewa is spoken by more than 57 percent of the population of Malawi. There are other languages like Chinyanja, Chiyao, and Chitumbuka.


9. Botswana

Botswana is located in the Southern part of Africa. It is another landlocked country in the list of African countries that speak English. Two million people live in Botswana. There are two official languages in the country. English is the preferred language for business and academic correspondence.  

However, local people speak the Setswana language. It is also the country’s national language. English is the official language of Botswana, despite the majority of people speaking Setswana. According to calculations, 2.8% of the total population speaks English. 

There are 31 other living languages in the country, used by the local people. These languages are too small and spoken remotely. Usually, people of Botswana understand either Setswana or English Language.


10. Rwanda

Rwanda is located in the central part of Africa. It is one of the smallest countries in the African region. Only thirteen million people live in Rwanda. 

English is the third official language of Rwanda. Only 0.2% of people speak the English language. Kinyarwanda and Swahili are the most spoken languages in the country. English is the language of business correspondence, official works, certificates, and formal communication. 

Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda. It is the most widely spoken language in the country. Kinyarwanda is the most useful language while visiting Rwanda. French is also a good option for those planning to visit Rwanda.


Quick Tips for English Speakers When Visiting Africa

Africa is the second-largest region in the world. A massive continent with various climates and lifestyles. The continent has a diverse variety of cultures and languages. Africa has its natural beauty and rare flora and fauna. 

The African region has vast areas and is extensive on resource material, human, cultural, and linguistic. The English language has catered for development in Africa. However, Africa has a complex political, social and linguistic setting.  

The essential languages on the continent include Arabic, French, and English. People in African countries speaking English are preferable for higher studies and immigration. English is also a language of instruction in the school system. 

  • Planning to Visit Africa and just thinking about the communication gap. Focus on what you want to experience there and work on the primary language expressions. 
  • It is good to develop a habit of reading signboards to find an easier target to locate directions.
  • Learning the local language and English can help read maps in the travel period.
  • When there is any communication gap between English and any African language, it is always better to consult any local person in non-verbal communication. 
  • Non-verbal communication works effectively when a person has friendly body language. Hence, while traveling, it’s better to stay kind and humble to seek help from the African people.
  • It’s always better to stay informed about the Country’s culture on the travel visit. Tourists and Immigrants should respect other cultures. 
  • Visual Cues through non-verbal communication help find the necessities like a restroom, food, water, or a place to sleep. 
  • It is crucial to know the English-speaking people in African countries who speak Englishcommunicate little in the malls and shopping centers.
  • In some areas where English is an official language, local people only understand the dialects. In this situation, Google Translation would eventually be valuable.  
  • Google Translation has a quick converter speed in different local languages. It allows text conversion in a feasible language to soothe the tour without knowing any single word. 
  • No matter where you travel, whom you talk with are moderately similar. The most important thing is the willingness to understand most of the way.
  • People enjoy traveling to the African continent because the 27 African countries speak English as a lingua franca.
  • It is better to learn the local words and popular phrases in advance to plan a successful visit to Africa.
  • Start by learning how to initiate any conversation and learn a few verbs like eat, drink, buy, want, go, taxi, and many more. 
  • One should carry a Phrasebook or Pocket Dictionary. Possibly it was not easy to rely on digital technology. A tiny book in your bag will add to your self-confidence and help out in a challenging situation.
  • Lean on a Local Speaking Guide to support English speaking and the native language. With translation and teach you a few things along the way if you get stuck. 
  • Always suitable to learn a handful of words and phrases for any country you visit like Hello, Goodbye, Please, Thank you, Do you speak English?, Bathroom, Water and red wine.
  • If you have planned a staycation in another country, you can look into local language classes. It is a better way to meet people as well as to learn.
  • Always carry a pen and paper to jot down important information and signs. Use it to write down names and addresses and draw an image of what you want to eat, perhaps if you do not know how to say the word.
  • Use online apps that help convert translations on the spot. 

5 Useful Apps to Help You Travel Across Africa

Traveling abroad has become as easy with digital advancement. The English language has sorted the barriers to communicating with the local folks. 

Finding various ways to overcome language barriers is simple, fun, and enriching. Some tools and applications support better communication. It is always good to use online apps for translations, reading maps, and many more. 

In the digital age, tourists no longer need phrasebooks. Nowadays, there is an app for everything. It is better to have translations by photo capturing to convert audio to text. Some apps will help break through the language barrier when traveling overseas.

These apps ease out a lot of burdened tasks of communication. Find some of the best-serving apps. 

1. Google Translation

  • The app offers top-notch features that make it easy for travelers to navigate social situations while abroad with highlights. 
  • It is free and available for both iOS and Android. 
  •  It is easy to operate. Insert text in one language and immediately grab the translation in another. 
  • It can either be in text or audio into the microphone for quick translation. 
  • Google translations have over 500 million users, and it gives real-time conversation. 
  • Accessible 59 offline languages are available. 

2. Duolingo

  •  It is an online real-time tutor that helps learn any language quickly. 
  • It is a free but premium ad-free subscription for $9.99 a month on iOS and Android. 
  • Duolingo has over 200 million active users.
  • Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, English, and many more are available on Duolingo. 
  • Duolingo is easy to handle just by creating a profile and selecting modules. 

3. HelloTalk: 

  • It allows you to connect to people in real-time. 
  • It offers Translation, Transliteration, and Transcription in a one-stop app. 
  • It is available on iOS and Android for free with in-app purchases. 
  • It is sharing by learning. Users connect themselves to the global community and speak the fluent language. 
  • Several languages available on HelloTalk are English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Italian, Russian, and Arabic. 

4. Microsoft Translator: 

  • It holds 90 languages, and the quality is top-notch. 
  • It allows online interaction by proclaiming quality. 
  • FEATURES: 90 languages available for text translations 
  • 39 languages for image translations 
  • 47 languages available for offline use, 
  • 30 languages for live conversation translations
  • Microsoft Translator detects the language feature. It is obtainable on iOS and Android for free. 

5. iTranslate:

  • It gives access to convert speech to text in over 100 languages. 
  • It has a vast dictionary and grammar. 
  • It requires taking a picture of any object or thing and translation in the selected language. 
  • It is a free app with in-app purchases available for iOS only.
  • iTranslate Voice is more comfortable to use during a comprehensive conversation

Additional FAQs about English-speaking African Countries

How Many Countries in Africa Have English as their Official Language? 

The African continent has a varied diverse population. Africans have different local dialects such as Yoruba, Oromo, Swahili, Igbo, and Hausa, expressed by millions of people. 

130,000,000 (130 million)
English speakers in People in African countries speak English officially. 

It is a relatively small portion of the continent’s population. AU has recognized English as the second language with its indigenous languages. 
African countries have lingua franca as the nationally dominant language English. It is the official language and the national language.

27 African countries
speak English as a primary, secondary, or official language:
Zimbabwe
Swaziland
Zambia 
Tanzania
Uganda
The Gambia
Sudan
South Sudan
South Africa 
Sierra Leone
Seychelles
Rwanda
Nigeria 
Liberia 
Lesotho
Namibia 
Mauritius
Malawi
Kenya 
Botswana 
Burundi 
Ghana
Ethiopia 
Cameroon 
Eritrea
Saint Helena 
Somaliland

Do African Countries Learn English?

Yes, English is a lingua franca across the African continent. It is functional as well as an official language in 27 countries

English-speaking countries in Africa either have the official language or a non-native second language. 

Different countries have English-speaking populations of African countries. 

Zimbabwe (82.07%), Zambia (16.02%), Tanzania (9.89%), Uganda (8.09%), The Gambia (2.34%), South Africa (31%), Sierra Leone (83.53%), Seychelles (37.93%), Rwanda (15%), Nigeria (86.42%), Liberia (82.67%), Lesotho (27.86%), Namibia (17.24%), Malawi (3.88%), Kenya (18.83%), Botswana (38.42%), Ghana (66.67%)

Economic factors are the most obvious driving forces that view English as a unifying language is also a helpful explanation.

The English language is an empowering force and allows sharing cultural information between cultures withstanding cultural identities.

People in African countries who speak English promote English as a principal tool of development and opportunity. 

Is English Common in Africa? 

Yes, English is a lingua franca across the African continent. It is functional as well as an official language in 27 countries

English-speaking countries in Africa either have the official language or a non-native second language. 

Different countries have English-speaking populations of African countries. 

Zimbabwe (82.07%), Zambia (16.02%), Tanzania (9.89%), Uganda (8.09%), The Gambia (2.34%), Yes, English is a lingua franca across the African continent. It is functional as well as an official language in 27 countries

Economic factors are the most obvious driving forces that view English as a unifying language is also a helpful explanation.

The English language is an empowering force and allows sharing cultural information between cultures withstanding cultural identities.

People in African countries who speak English promote English as a principal tool of development and opportunity. 



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