Kiswahili will be taught as an optional language in South African schools from 2020 as part of efforts "to bring Africans together", Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said.
It will be the first African language, from outside South Africa, to be offered at schools.
French, German and Mandarin are among foreign languages already offered in South African schools as optional subjects.
Ms Motshekga said Kiswahili was the most spoken language in Africa after English and Arabic, and "has the power to expand to countries that never spoke it and has the power to bring Africans together".
"It is also one of the official languages of the African Union. We are confident that the teaching of Kiswahili is South African schools will help to promote social cohesion with our fellow Africans," Ms Motshekga added.
Last month, South Africa radical opposition leader Julius Malema said Kiswahili should be developed into a "continental language" as parts of efforts to "decolonise" Africa.
“We must have a language which unites Africans... We then do away with speaking to each other in English," he said.