Back to Africa Check

No evidence Senegal has changed its official language from French to Arabic

IN SHORT: Senegal, due to its colonial past, speaks French as its official language. However, online claims that it has replaced French with Arabic are false.

Senegal was France’s oldest colony in Africa until it gained independence in 1960. France has an air base in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, and the two countries have strong political and economic ties.

The people of the West African country speak many languages, including Wolof, Fulani, Serer, French (official language) and Arabic. 

Islam is the main religion and the Qur’an, the holy book, is written in Arabic.

But claims have surfaced online that the country has changed its official language from French to Arabic.

One of the several Facebook posts making the claim reads: “BREAKING: Senegal announced it is adopting Arabic as its official language, abandoning French.”

The claim can also be seen here, and here

But has Senegal changed its official language from French to Arabic? We checked.

Nothing but the facts

Get a weekly dose of facts delivered straight to your inbox.


No evidence of official language change 

Senegal is a member of the Organisation Internationale De La Francophonie, which promotes the French language and political, educational, economic and cultural cooperation among its member states. 

Such a major change, if true, would have been reported in the local and international media. But our search for credible media reports on Senegal's alleged official language change came up empty.

No such switch has been publicly announced. The Senegalese government's official social media and websites remain in French.

The same claim has been debunked by our Senegal country office here.

The false claim can also be seen here, here, here and here.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.