Learning French for the Future:
A Bloomberg study carried out in 2011 anticipated three languages to lead the world of business in the coming decades- Mandarin, English, and French. The boost for French comes directly from the demographic explosion in the African continent, where many countries use French as an official language. More than 30 countries have given French official status as a language and the number of French speakers in the world is currently more than 300 million. In the world of business and commerce so far, English has been the dominant language while Spanish and Mandarin have slowly increased their influence. French, for over the greater part of the 20th century was the language of diplomacy and culture.
French Benefits from Africa’s Growth
However what with the International Organisation for Francophonie growing in influence in Africa, there has been a renewed focus on promoting common values and culture through the language in all French-speaking countries.
This focus has strengthened French’s capacity to be a language of negotiation with French-speaking African countries- thus opening up the market for Francophone entities. In fact, a study by the French External Ministry proved that cultural affinities definitely impact positively the probability of having a profitable economic activity with a partner.
In a market that spans over 33 countries with at least 20% of the population being French speakers, speaking French increases by 30% the ease of transaction and also helps increase the wealth of each inhabitant by 6%. This combined with the demographic growth in Africa and the increasing rate of growth of GDP in many of these countries, the future of business in Africa is definitely leaning towards French. Thus learning French would be a great advantage for anyone targeting business growth in Africa.
Learning French is helping cement relations within Africa:
Let’s take the example of Morocco to illustrate how knowing French helps businesses in Africa. Due to the colonial history of these countries, the judiciary system is pretty common in almost all countries and is all derived greatly from French law. In Morocco, even the accounting system is French-based, which makes business that much more easier. This commonality in administrative culture helps commercial transactions enormously. Also internally, countries like Morocco turn towards French-speaking partners within Africa, due to this facility.
Countries like Mali, Burkina Faso and Tunisia are well interlinked economic partners due to the common language that they speak. The shared history of these French-speaking countries and the history of the French language are intricately linked in the 20th century and this has definitely helped cement strong relations within Africa for these partners.
French Speaking Countries in Europe and Elsewhere
More and more students from countries like China and Russia, according to a report from the Institut supérieur du commerce de Paris, are choosing to learn French, although they are already anglophone, hoping to add it to their CV. Doing a course in French adds value to their resume and makes it far more attractive to players in traditional French strongholds like perfumes, gastronomy, cosmetics, haute couture, etc. Another big sector that is exploding with potential for French is the digital space, where Anglophone developers are constantly seeking French-speaking talent to help customize their apps for French-speaking countries.
The Brexit Effect:
After the departure of the UK from the European Union, French is slowly establishing itself as an essential language for transactions in Europe, although English still remains influential in the region. French is also the official language of several UN organizations established in Europe and elsewhere like the WTO. This growing influence of French is being also perceived in the growth of Francophones in countries that are traditionally anything but French speakers. In 2018 there were 12% de francophones in Romania, 13% in Austria, and 25% in Portugal!