Marketing and Advertising in Africa, multilingually

When marketing and advertising your business in Africa, it’s best to understand the prevalent languages being spoken in each region.

French (Francophonic) and Portuguese (Lusophonic) speaking countries in Africa offer an ample opportunity to communicate with a massive potential market for your business within two locales across the continent, the third, of course, being English.


There are five Lusophonic countries across Africa, including AngolaCape Verde, Guinea-BissauMozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe. Equatorial Guinea also added Portuguese alongside Spanish and French. Known as the PALOP countries, the five mentioned are former Portuguese colonies. They formed in 1992, PALOP being a colloquial acronym that translates to African Countries of Portuguese Official Language (PortuguesePaíses Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa).  The PALOP countries have signed official agreements with PortugalEuropean Union and the United Nations,  and they work together to promote the development Portuguese language.


The most Portuguese speakers in Africa are from Angola and Mozambique.

The Francophonic countries are far greater in number across Africa. Countries that cite French as an official language in Africa are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comores, Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles and Togo. French is also widely used in Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia. The countries with the most French speakers are the DRC, Madagascar, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger.

When advertising or marketing to any of these locales, let your translation agency or translator know of the region where your marketing or advertising will be taking place. Although largely similar to European versions of French and Portuguese due to the colonisation across Africa by these countries, there may be inflections specific to the regions you’re advertising into when it comes to voice-overs and you want to be speaking directly to the people you’re advertising to.

Those inflections will add authority and trust to your message and more than likely result in greater penetration of your message.

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