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Francophonie, a strong increase
According to a report by the International Organization of Francophonie (OIF) « French Language in the World, 2014 », French is spoken by 274 million practitioners, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world. For 212 million people, French is spoken daily (the language spoken in the home, at school, in the public sector and in the media). The remaining 63 million people are considered to use French as a « foreign language ». At the time of the last analysis in 2010, the report counted a total of 220 million French speakers, which corresponds to an increase of more than 20% in 4 years, a rise that speaks to the strong state of the French language, but which can also be attributed in large part to a dynamic African demographic. In fact, it is sub-Saharan Africa which has seen the greatest advancement. (Certain countries have experienced an increase of 30%.
Francophonie, economic arm
In 2012, the Ferdi Foundation mentioned in its study, « The Economic Weight of French Language in the World », the economic potential created by sharing the same language: « On average, during the period 1995-2006, the commercial flow between two countries in the Francophone space (33 countries, Editor’s note) is 22% more significant than between a pair of countries with similar characteristics (….) but who do not share a Francophone platform ».
Challenges and perspectives
If Francophonie is in strong health, it must however address a certain number of challenges to assure its future. The first resides in the quality of teaching, the school setting continuing to be the principal vehicle for learning French. Because if French advances, there will be competition from other languages.
The International Organization of Francophonie is sounding the alarm on the decline of French at the heart of some international institutions where it shares the designation of official language along with English; for example, the Olympic Games. French must equally battle against Anglicismes. Actually, French has always borrowed from other languages, and in particular English, but the tendency has seemed to intensify these past few years. The OIF reminds us that, just as they belong to the society at large, they are also the leaders of the battle against the Anglicisation of our language, and are called to promote varieties of French, such as Belgian, Swiss or Quebecois.
Heads of state and the Francophone governing body gathered in Dakar decided to entrust to Madagascar the planning and organization for the next Francophonie Summit. For the first time, the « Grand Ile » is going to welcome the Francophonie Summit in November of this year. The 2016 Summit will be the second organized in the Indian Ocean region, following the one in Grand Baie, Maurice (Mauritius) in 1993. The 16th Summit will be held in Antananarivo on November 19 and 20, 2016 around the theme: «shared growth and responsible development: the conditions of world stability and the Francophone space».
To illustrate this theme, the organizing committee chose for the logo of the Summit, a symbol representing the traveler’s tree, « Ravinala » in the Madagascan language, which contains in its leaves, thirst-quenching water.