Are Francophone, Anglophone Countries the Next Big Fault Line in Africa?

Fredrick Ngugi April 13, 2017
African presidents pose for a photo at the last AU summit in Ethiopia. Mercator Net

In spite of all the economic and political difficulties that Africa faces today, the continent still has to deal with the apparent conflict between francophone and anglophone countries. The two communities seem to be divided along various lines, mainly political, economic, cultural as well as social.

Recent studies have also shown that there are several important differences in attitudes between the two communities, with some researchers claiming that anglophones are a bit more conservative than their fellow French-speaking Africans.

Socio-Economic Differences

The English-speaking African countries have often accused their French-speaking counterparts of lagging behind them in economic growth. Statistics from the World Bank Group show English-speaking countries ranking better in reference to suitable environments for doing business than their French equivalents.

The bank reports that it is easier to do business, clear imports, and obtain payment from borrowers in anglophone countries than in francophone countries. The institution further claims that telephones in Benin (a francophone country) cost 400 times more than in Ghana (an anglophone country).

Worse still, seven of the 10 worst-ranked countries by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with regards to human development, are French-speaking African states.

Out of the 187 countries included in the report, Burundi, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of Congo occupy the last three positions.

Experts also point out infrastructural development as the other major difference between anglophone and francophone countries in Africa, with most French-speaking states appearing to lack important infrastructure that involves energy, water, and transport.

Without these crucial amenities, the affected countries continue to drag behind in economic growth.

Political Difference

While most African countries have had their fair share of internal conflict, francophone states have suffered the most from frequent civil wars and political conflicts — a situation that has left many of them once again economically disadvantaged.

Over the last 20 years, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast, in particular, have undergone major conflicts that have had a detrimental effect on development in the entire francophone region.

This is quite disconcerting given that the two countries recorded significant economic growth compared to their English-speaking counterparts just a few years after independence.

Unfortunately, the political difference between anglophone and francophone African countries often plays out whenever the two have to come together to make a continental decision like electing African Union leaders.

The exercise usually ends up being a competition between the two groups, with each preferring to support one of their own.

Even in countries where the two communities cohabit, as in Cameroon, their divergent political ideologies and preferences are noticeable and have caused explosive tensions in recent years.

With the new era of separatism spreading across the globe, it is yet to be seen whether the differences between anglophones and francophones will become a major divider of African people.

Poll Do you think conflict is on the horizon between francophones and anglophones in Africa? ?

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: April 13, 2017


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