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African countries by the literacy rate

Africa the cradle of language but not literacy

The literacy rate among African adults aged 15 years and older including statistics and definitions of literacy rates by countries in Africa.




Article Topics
What is literacy

Putting literacy rates in Africa in perspective



Learning to read and write should be fundamental yet, more than 75% of the world's 781 million illiterate adults are found in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa; of all the illiterate adults in the world, almost 66% are women.

Nevertheless, keep in mind there are no universal definitions and standards of literacy, therefore, literacy rates in Africa are subjective. Also, Africa is the second most populous continent with about 1.1 billion people or 16% of the world’s population. 

Mexico, China, Eastern, and Western Europe, India, the USA, and Japan can all fit into Africa's total land area very comfortably. African countries by the literacy rate generally mean literacy also encompasses numeracy, the ability to make simple arithmetic calculations.

Reading in Africa

Africa the cradle of language but not literacy


Most importantly, over 25% of all languages are spoken only in Africa with over 2,000 languages are spoken on the continent. With such diversity in language, a person is counted as literate by the World Bank as the population aged 15 and above who can, with understanding, read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life. 


The top five African countries with the highest literacy rates are:

Equatorial Guinea 95.3 %
South Africa 94.3 %
Seychelles 91.8 %
Libya 91 %
Mauritius 90.6 %

The top five African countries with the lowest literacy rates are:

Niger 19.1 %
South Sudan 27 %
Guinea 30.4 %
Burkina Faso 36 %
The Central African Republic 36.8 %




People who read are better able to understand other people, empathize with them and view the world from their perspective.



African Country Literacy rates 2015 in Alphabetical Order



African countries by the literacy rate
Percent of people counted as literate by the World Bank age 15, above who can, with understanding, read, and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life.

Algeria  80.2 percent

Angola  71.1 percent

Benin  38.4 percent

Botswana  88.5 percent

Burkina Faso  36 percent

Burundi  85.6 percent

Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)  87.6 percent

Cameroon  75 percent

The Central African Republic  36.8 percent

Chad  40.2 percent

Comoros  77.8 percent

The Democratic Republic of the Congo  63.8 percent

Republic of the Congo  79.3 percent

Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)  43.1 percent

Egypt  73.8 percent

Equatorial Guinea  95.3 percent

Eritrea  73.8 percent

Ethiopia  49.1 percent

Gabon  83.2 percent

The Gambia  55.5 percent

Ghana  76.6 percent

Guinea Bissau  59.9 percent

Guinea  30.4 percent

Kenya  78 percent

Lesotho  79.4 percent

Liberia  47.6 percent (male 62.4 percent and female  32.8 percent)

Libya  91 percent

Madagascar  64.7 percent

Malawi  65.8 percent

Mali  38.7 percent

Mauritania  52.1 percent

Mauritius  90.6 percent

Morocco  68.5 percent

Mozambique  58.8 percent (male 73.3 percent and female  45.4 percent)

Namibia  81.9 percent

Nigeria  59.6 percent

Niger  19.1 percent

Rwanda  70.5 percent

Sao Tome and Principe 74.9 percent

Senegal  57.7 percent  

Seychelles  91.8 percent (2012)

Sierra Leone  48.1 percent

South Africa  94.3 percent

South Sudan 27 percent (male 40 percent and female 16 percent -2009 est.)

Sudan  75.9 percent

Swaziland (name changed to eSwatini 2018) 87.5 percent

Tanzania  70.6 percent

Togo  66.5 percent

Tunisia  81.8 percent

Uganda  78.4 percent

Zambia  63.4 percent

Zimbabwe English  86.5 percent



Note: no data available on two African countries from the World Bank



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