No proof that ‘over a million’ Nigerians live in South Africa

A social media post by a famous Nigerian comedian claims there are over a million Nigerians in South Africa.

Ayo Makun, known by his stage name “AY”, says in his Instagram post: “Over a million Nigerians live in South Africa.” He goes on to discuss the “investment” each country makes in the other. 

AY has 6.5 million followers on Instagram and over a million on Twitter. At the time of writing, the 4 September 2019 post had generated over 34,000 reactions and thousands of comments. 

The comedian’s post came in the wake of xenophobic violence in South Africa, which has led to the loss of properties largely owned by foreigners, including Nigerians.

Xenophobic violence against foreign-owned stores and enterprises has a long history in South Africa.

Similar claim debunked

Inflated claims about the number of Nigerians living in South Africa have made the rounds before. 

In August 2019 Africa Check checked a similar claim and found no data supporting this. The pan-African media site Africa is a Country tweeted that 800,000 Nigerians “live in South Africa”. This figure was attributed to the News Agency of Nigeria

A senior editor at the news agency told Africa Check that this number was likely more, but admitted that no census or official figure has been released on the number of Nigerians in South Africa.

Only about 30,000 Nigerians in South Africa

Statistics South Africa’s 2016 Community Survey estimated that 30,314 people, or about 2%, of foreign-born people living in South Africa were from Nigeria. 

The 2016 survey is the most recent data collection exercise in South Africa that includes migrants. Other sources such as the country’s 2011 census and UN statistics also do not show anything more than 30,000 Nigerians resident in Soth Africa.  – Motunrayo Joel


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