Increased African literacy boosts number of French speakers in world

There are more and more French speakers in the world, the International Organisation of La Francophonie - which represents the French-speaking world - said as it turns 40 this year. French is on the rise thanks to marked progress in African literacy.


AFP - The number of French speakers in the world is rising thanks to increasing literacy in Africa, the International Organisation of La Francophonie said ahead of its 40th birthday.

"The figures that we will release in September on French in the world ... will show a marked progress compared to 2007," said Alexandre Wolff of the 56-member IOF.

There are currently estimated to be 200 million French speakers in the world, making it the ninth most-spoken language.

Of them, around 96 million live in Africa, where the increase in literacy combined with a high birth rate could see the number of French speakers rise to 700 million by 2050, the IOF said.

But such dramatic progress in countries where French is taught at school as a second language rather than by the family at home is dependant on national governments' policies, especially in education.

The number of people who speak French as a first langauge is only around 75 million, the IOF says.

The IOF was founded on March 20, 1970 by four leaders from former French colonies Cambodia, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning