Francophonie En Afrique Subsaharienne: Dépendance Postcoloniale Ou Autodétermination ? (Francophonie in Sub-Saharan Africa: Post-Colonial Dependence or Self-Determination?)

33 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2022

See all articles by Dirk Kohnert

Dirk Kohnert

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs

Date Written: December 11, 2022


The English version of this paper can be found at

Africa is today the most important part of the Francophonie. French is an official or co-official language along with other languages in 21 African countries, all in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Since the end of colonialism and Cold War politics, changes in the Francophonie have been driven largely by external factors, such as a drive to combat Anglo-American cultural hegemony. Continuities, on the other hand, are mainly due to France's historical affinity with Africa, its view of its place in the world and its understanding of the role of the state. The International Organization of Francophonie (OIF) defends the common interests of the Francophone area and imposes a common vision for reform, particularly in the area of terms of trade. However, the demographic future of Francophonie will play out more and more in southern countries, especially in Africa. In 2010, half of all Francophones worldwide lived in Africa. It is expected that by 2060 almost 84 % of the French-speaking population will live in Africa. Francophonie is mainly driven by the Francophone power elite in, both France and Africa, and the infamous Françafrique patronage network. Both propagate the universality of French as a language, including Pidgin French (often biasedly referred to as ‘petit-nègre’), culture and way of life. Although the fate of African Francophonie is still determined by the North, the high mobility of the African population, driven by increasing urbanization, means that multilingualism, e.g. the simultaneous use of French and African languages, is 'deterritorialized'. Therefore, it would be crucial to solve the problem of the interface between French and African languages and to identify which other languages could replace French and in which areas this would be most desirable. Apart from that, there are promising perspectives for a self-determined development in the area of the francophone culture of the SSA. The African film industry, literature and religion could make it possible to find a new African rationality, a new way of defining oneself and hoping for a better future, free from the socio-economic inequalities that characterize the francophone post-colony despite globalization. Thus, a viable, dynamic and truly African culture in Francophone SSA could equal and even surpass the rival ‘Commonwealth culture’. Although both European colonial powers, Great Britain and France, conquered substantial geographic spaces in SSA, using language.

Note: Downloadable document is in French.

Keywords: Afrique francophone, Francophonie, Françafrique, franc CFA, commerce international, zone de libre-échange, union douanière, Commonwealth, migration, démographie, gouvernance, autocratie, dévolution du pouvoir, développement durable, mouvements sociaux, post-colonialisme, Afrique subsaharienne,

JEL Classification: D72, D74, D84, D91, E26, F51, F52, F54, I25, I31, J11, J15, N47, O17, P47, Z13

Suggested Citation

Kohnert, Dirk, Francophonie En Afrique Subsaharienne: Dépendance Postcoloniale Ou Autodétermination ? (Francophonie in Sub-Saharan Africa: Post-Colonial Dependence or Self-Determination?) (December 11, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Dirk Kohnert (Contact Author)

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs ( email )

German Inst. of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)
Neuer Jungfernstieg 21
D-20354 Hamburg


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