News Release

Church Growth in Africa is Brisk and Accelerating


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in poised for explosive growth in Africa with ten percent annual growth rates in some West African countries. Ten percent growth if maintained will result in a doubling of membership in seven years. Nigeria already has as many members of the Church as Australia, and Africa as a whole has almost as many Church members as Oceania or Europe.

Independent Latter-day Saint demographer Matthew Martinich has compiled new statistics on the growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His analysis is based in large part on a study of new congregations created or discontinued in 2016. This analysis showed congregational growth in all major regions of the world in 2016 with strongly accelerating growth in Africa.

Particularly noteworthy was the growth of the Church in West Africa with over 27,000 baptisms in 2016, representing a 10% growth in Church membership. The Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) has experienced some of the most rapid Church growth, adding on average one congregation per week in 2016 or 52 for the year. The Church in Nigeria also reported accelerating growth in 2016, becoming the first country in Africa with over 500 congregations. Forty-six new congregations were formed in Nigeria in 2016 including thirteen in cities and towns previously without an LDS congregation. Thirty-three new congregations were created in the country of Ghana, ten in Sierra Leone and six in Liberia.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo the number of LDS congregations increased by 15 from 153 to 168 during the year, an almost ten per cent increase. The Church created its third mission in that country, and the new mission president is a native Congolese, indicative of the strength and maturity of the local leadership.


The Church has three operating temples in Africa with two additional temples under construction and two others announced but not yet under construction.

Church growth in Oceania also continued at a steady pace. New congregations were formed in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and in several island nations. Notably, eight new congregations were organized in Samoa, a 5.5% annual increase. Tonga, Samoa, and several other Oceanic countries have the highest percentage of Latter-day Saints in their population in the world.

In 1947 Church membership passed the one million mark. Current Church membership is over fifteen and a half million with Africa, Oceania, and Europe each having roughly half a million members, Asia over a million members, and North and South America having the balance of Church membership. In 1996 the number of Church members living outside the U.S. surpassed the number living in the U.S., a trend towards internationalization that is accelerating.  

This international growth builds on modest beginnings in the 19th century. The first LDS missionaries to Africa arrived in 1853, just thirteen years after the first LDS missionary arrived in Australia in 1840 and just seven years after the first LDS baptisms in the Tahitian-speaking Society Islands in 1844.

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