Research has it that more than 1.5 billion people speak English. However, some speak good English, some don’t speak very well and not everyone has learned it the same way. About 375 million people speak it as an official language. About 369 million people speak English as a first language and over 898 million people speak it as a foreign language.
For this reason, there are over one billion English learners across the globe. Among all, we have best English-speaking countries in the Africa and well as worst English speaking countries in Africa. We have pointed out in our previous article by ranking those African countries with the best English speakers, Our discussion in this article is center on those African countries lagging somewhat behind in this contest.
There are many countries in Africa that do not speak good English. The best English speaking countries in Africa are those countries colonised by Great Britain who speak English as an official language of communication.
The worst English speaking countries in Africa are countries colonised by France who speaks the French language and other few countries who speaks Portuguese language. These French speaking countries includes Ivory Coast, Mali, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad, Niger etc. And a few Portuguese African speaking countries such as Cape Verde, Angola etc. Also the like of Equatorial Guinea who speaks Portuguese as its official language with many local languages.
There are quite a number of them. all Francophone nations are worst English speaking countries in Africa and these countries do not primarily speak English. In fact some part of Equatorial Guinea speaks Spanish.
Furthermore, Morrocco and Cote d’Ivoire speak French, and Angola speaks Portuguese, Egypt and many others speak Arabic which records them among the worst English speaking countries in Africa.
What is Worst English Speaking Countries in Africa? There are countries that cannot speak speak English. Although some of them can speak English correctly but majority cannot speak the real English language.
In some countries, mainly the former British colonies, the official and administrative language is English. This does not in any way mean that everybody speaks it, or that it is even the most spoken language.
Ghana for example is an “English speaking country”, but a lot of people speak just a few words of good English. For this reason we maybe be correct to list Ghana among the worst English speaking countries in Africa. The main Ghanaians language is Twi, the Ashanti language.
And in other countries, even the “French speaking” countries, a lot of educated people speak good English. Although Portuguese is also official language in some African countries and is used in formal situations, Crioulo, one of the oldest of the Portuguese creole languages, is by far the most widely spoken in some part of Africa.
Worst English Speaking Countries in Africa.
Now that we have idea about the good speakers of English, Portuguese, French, Swahili and Spanish language in Africa, lets survey the most worst English speaking countries in Africa:
1. Sao Tome and Principe.
The Sao Tome and Principe islands were occupied by the Portuguese from 1470 to 1975. The years of Portuguese colonialization firmly established the Portuguese language in the territory.
Today, the nation ranks third regarding numbers of Portuguese users behind Portugal and Brazil.
So São Tomé and Príncipe is among the worst English speaking countries in Africa as Portuguese is the official and national language. It is spoken by virtually all of the population.
Cape Verdean Creole is spoken by 8.5% and it is also a Portuguese creole. French (6.8%) and English (4.9%) are foreign languages taught in schools.
Angola shares a land border with the southern part of the Democratic of Congo, where Swahili is the main language, and people who have crossed the border into Angola, many of whom have since been expelled, may be Swahili speakers, along with those living in South Africa. English is not widely spoken in Angola.
Mozambique is a weak English speaking country in Africa. Portuguese is the official language, although this is generally only spoken by the more educated amongst Mozambique’s population. Beside this, more than 60 different dialects of Bantu languages can be found in Mozambique. English is generally spoken in business environment.
Algeria is ranks among the most worst English speaking countries in Africa . According to the Algerian envoy to India, only five percent of the population can speak “good English”. That led the Government to invite Indians to teach the language in Algerian universities in 2012.
The most widely spoken language in everyday life in Egypt is actually Egyptian Arabic, with around two thirds of the population fluent. Although Egypt speak weak English but nowadays, English is the foreign language most likely to be spoken in Egypt.
According to a 2012 study by the Government of Spain, 98% of Moroccans spoke Moroccan Arabic, 63% spoke French, 26% Tamazight, 14% spoke English, and 10% spoke Spanish. The people who speaks English in Morocco are very few.
English may soon become Tunisia’s third official language. Many of Tunisia’s official documents are now being translated into English as well as French. There is a small minority (1%) in Tunisia that speaks Shelha, a Berber language.
French, English, and Italian are the main foreign languages spoken in Tunisia. The proximity of the country to Europe has popularized European languages in the country. A significant population in Tunisia also speaks Turkish.
8. Republic of Benin
Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, is one of Africa’s most stable democracies. While the country has experienced economic growth over the past few years and is one of Africa’s largest cotton producers, it ranks among the world’s poorest countries.
Republic of Benin is ranks among the worst English speaking countries in Africa located in the West Africa, is one of Africa’s most stable democracies.
French language is the official language of this country of 11 million people. The people of Benin speak Fon, Ge, Bariba, Yoruba, and Dendi, as well.
9. Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is one of lovely and safest countries in West Africa.
With a population of 18.6 million, it is one of the poorest English speaker in Africa.
It is located in the west and is landlocked. French is the official language, although other indigenous language are also spoken.
Burundi is another one of the poorest English speaker countries in Africa and has a population of about 10 million. It is located in the east and the official languages are French and Kirundi.
Cameroon English is a minor English dialect spoken predominantly in Cameroon, mostly learned as a second language. It shares some similarities with English varieties in neighbouring West Africa, as Cameroon lies at the west of Central Africa. It is primarily spoken in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon.
Cameroon has one of the highest literacy rates and it ranks among the worst English speaking countries in Africa continent and is known as “Africa in miniature” due to its diversity with over 200 linguistic groups, the official languages are French and English. They also speak the languages of Bantu, Semi-Bantu and Sudanic groups.
Comoros is a country located off the eastern coast of Africa, east of Madagascar. It is made up of the islands of Grande Comore, Moheli, Anjouan, and Mayotte, as well as many smaller islands. The population is 813,000 and the official languages are French, Arabic, and Comorian.
13. Democratic Republic of Congo
With a population of 81.5 million, this huge central African country has been plagued by civil war and corruption in the recent past.
Democratic Republic of Congo 2003 Constitution states that, while French is the country’s sole official language, Kituba, Swahili, Lingala and Tshiluba are all national languages. For this reason it is ranks among non speaking English countries in the continent.
The official language of Democratic Republic of Congo is French while Lingala, Kiswahili, Kikongo, and Tshiluba are also spoken.
14. Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast (French: Côte d’Ivoire) is a multilingual country with an estimated 78 languages currently spoken and ranks among the worst English speaking countries in Africa.
The official language, is French, it was introduced during the colonial period. This language is taught in schools and serves as a lingua franca in the country.
The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa beans. French is the official language in this country of 23.7 million people.
Though for international reason, the French language is the official language of Gabon and the French language is not the most spoken in the world, English is still the language of business some Gabonese officials used as mean of interaction but the majority of the country doesn’t speak good English language.
Gabon is one of the most stable countries in western Africa, Gabon has a population of 1.5 million people whose official language is French. Other Bantu group languages are also spoken here.
According to the 2014 census of Guinea, the country has 22 major languages. French is the country’s official language, but is used almost exclusively as a second language. Six indigenous languages have the status of national languages: Pular (or Fula), Maninka, Susu, Kissi, Kpelle and Toma.
This country of 10.5 million, located in western Africa and has been spotted among the worst English speaking countries in Africa. Guinea has the potential to be one of the richest countries in Africa due to its vast mineral wealth. Nonetheless, its people are some of the poorest in the region. The official language is French, and Susu, Fulani, and Mandingo are also spoken.
17. Equatorial Guinea
The official languages are Spanish, French, and (as of 2010) Portuguese. Equatorial Guinea is found, you guessed it, near the equator just to the north of Gabon. It is a small country with 1.2 million people.
25 million people live on this large island off the east coast of the African continent.
In fact, it is the 4th largest island in the world! Madagascar is known for its wildlife. The official languages are Malagasy and French.
Many westerners have heard of Mali and the northern city of Timbuktu. Mali is one of the largest countries in Africa.
The population of 18.5 million speaks French as the official language. Other major languages spoken include Bambara, Berber, and Arabic.
Niger is located to the east of Mali and is on the edge of the Sahara desert. It has a population of 16.6 million people and is noted as being a major transit route for migrants heading to Europe.
The official language is French, and people also speak Hausa, Songhai, and Arabic.
French and Kinyarwanda was formally the official language, but after the RPF took power in 1994, English was made an official language in Rwanda because many of the RPF’s leaders are Tutsis who grew up in exile in English speaking Uganda and Tanzania.
Rwanda has 31,000 primary school teachers of whom about 4,700 have been trained in English. It isn’t strange that a country seeking more foreign investment is turning to English. But at the moment Rwanda people do not speak fluent English.
Rwanda is located just north of Burundi and has suffered much from the conflict between the Tutsi and Hutu groups.
There is a great film called, Hotel Rwanda, that will help give you an idea of what happened here. Kinyarwanda, French, and English are the official languages of this country of 11.2 million people.
Senegal is known as one of Africa’s model democracies. It is in northwest Africa and has had a tradition of stable governments.
Dakar is the capital city of this country of 15.5 million people. French is the official language and Wolof is the lingua franca.
In Senegal, English is taught as a second language. French is the official and colonial language used for administrative and academic purposes.
However, there are several ethnic groups, therefore six different local languages are spoken in different parts of the country.
This group of islands lies to the north of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The 94,000 inhabitants speak French, English, and Seychellois Creole as their official languages. The Seychelles enjoy a high per capita income as well as good healthcare and education systems.
Although the national languages of Seychelles are Seychellois Creole, English and French. Nevertheless, is among among the worst English speaking countries in Africa.
The country was a British colony for over a century and a half, and the legacy of British Seychelles made English remain the main language in government and business. French was introduced before the British rule.
The Togolese Republic is in western Africa. It has struggled to become a stable country since it gained independence from France in 1960.
Togo is a multilingual country, the official language is French, and national languages are Ewé and Kabiyé. French is also the formal written language in Togo. Togolese speak little or weak English.
The population of 7.6 million people speaks French as their official language.
There are several other countries where they speak French in Africa, although French is not the official language. These countries include Algeria, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, and Tunisia.