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5 Big African countries with multiple languages

Africa is best known for its astounding geographical diversity, which ranges from sandstone deserts to thick forests.

But did you recognize that Africa is also culturally and consists of countries with multiple languages? Africa, as one of the world’s oldest inhabited regions, now has as many as 2,000 multiple languages even more. Furthermore, almost all the countries in Africa are multilingual nations.

Amazingly, this diversity has enormously significant benefits for boosting economic growth.  Indeed, researchers have found a link between multilingualism and economic growth.

The major difficulty, of course, is working to overcome these vast communication barriers. This is why many new and growing businesses will use translation services.

With that in mind, let’s look at some African countries with multiple languages.


The Nigerian people speak 526 different native languages. With over 184 million speakers, English is unsurprisingly the official language. Here are a few:

  • Tiv
  • Yoruba
  • Hausa
  • Igbo
  • Fulfulde
  • Efik-Ibibio
  • Kanuri
  • Gbagyi
  • Nupe

As a result, the majority of official and business conversations are conducted in English. Because English is such a commonly spoken language around the world, business expansion into Nigeria is exceptionally simple in terms of communication difficulties.


128262861 bbcmp cameroon

Cameroon is found in second place in our list of countries with different languages. The Nigeria’s neighbour is among the top 10 most multilingual nations in the world. The nation is home to 275 languages, according to Ethnologue. However, some sources claim that the region is home to up to 600 different languages.

Unfortunately, due to the country’s colonial history, most native languages are no longer widely spoken. Cameroon’s official languages are French and English, with the former being spoken by 83% of the population. Notably, the majority of the population speaks English in a vernacular dialect known as Cameroonian Pidgin English.

German, interestingly, was once among the official languages of Cameroon. While the language is no longer officially recognized, Cameroon remains Africa’s most German-literate country.


Zimbabwe is the country with the third-highest number of official multilingual African countries in the world. Shona, Kalanga, Venda, Chewa, English, Khoisan, Nambya, Shangani, Ndebele, Zimbabwean, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Chibarwe, Xhosa, Ndau, and American Sign Language are among Zimbabwe’s 16 official languages.

While English is widely used in business and government, it is rarely used in everyday interactions. Instead, 70% of Zimbabweans communicate in Shona, with the remaining 20% speaking Ndebele.

Aside from all these native languages, some immigrants’ languages have taken a sit in the system. Hindi, Chinese, Dutch, French, Gujarati, and German are among them.

South Africa

South Africa has the continent’s third-largest economy, with the largest manufacturing, technological, and economic improvements. It’s a member of the continent’s eight top economies.

South Africa has at least 35 indigenous languages, 10 of which are official languages. English, is a non-native language.

Unsurprisingly, the typical South African knows at least two languages, usually one native and one unofficial.

Notably, all official languages in South Africa have equal legal status under the country’s constitution. Furthermore, the Constitution includes provisions that guard and uplift the status of marginalized languages, such as:

• Khoekhoegowab
• !Orakobab
• Xirikobab
• N|uuki
• !Xunthali
• Khwedam


chad 30march2016
countries with multiple languages

Chad is one of the world’s most multilingual nations, with over 120 spoken languages. Chad has two official languages: French and Modern Standard Arabic. French is principally spoken in large cities and is used as the main language in schools.

Nevertheless, 50-60% of the overall population speaks Chadian Arabic, a local dialect of Arabic. Ngambay, on the other hand, has the greatest number of native speakers.

So there you have it African countries with different languages. Click here for more on know now.



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