There have been lots of controversies around the number of Nigerians who live in South Africa.
Nigerian Union South Africa (NUSA) spokesman, Emeka Ezinteje recently told Africa Check that the 800,000 figure is an “approximated figure based on projections from current data”.

The union claims it issues each member with an ID card and collects data on the number of Nigerians from its 76 wards scattered across the country. Though this claim was not supported by any evidence.

This figure was controverted by Statistics South Africa’s estimate of 30,314 people – or roughly 2% of foreign-born people living in South Africa – are from Nigeria.

South Africa’s 2011 census found this figure to be 26,341. The United Nation’s estimate for 2015 was even lower, at 17,753.

“There is absolutely no way that (the above claim) is true,” Loren Landau, a research professor based at the African Centre for Migration and Society, told Africa Check.

“If you look at Statistics South Africa data, there are only about 1.5 to 2 million international migrants in total in the country. Although these figures are undoubtedly imperfect, they are better than any other data out there.”

But if the statistics from the United States holds water, it may give an indication on how many Nigerians living in South Africa.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data says there are about 327,000 Nigerian s in the U S as at 2015 – a figure touted as the highest number of Nigerian immigrants living any country of the world.

This figure is credible as against the backdrop of the migration history of Nigerians to the U.S. Nigerians have been travelling to the U.S. for education, business and holiday since 1925.

In its 1935 annual report, the New York-based Institute of International Education indicated that in 1926 there were three documented Nigerian students in United States universities. In its subsequent reports, the number of students increased to 22 in 1944.

The simple random sampling conducted in Johannesburg recently by reveals that the 800,000 figure by NUSA is spurious.

Eight out of 10 Nigerians do not have NUSA ID card. The most reliable data is that of Statistics South Africa community survey of 2016 that says there about 30, 314 Nigerians in South Africa.

The South African Homa Affairs department is another reliable institution that may supply figure on the number of Nigerians in their database.

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Femi Oshin
Femi Oshin 165 posts

Femi Oshin is a publisher at and Producer /Presenter of Agogo Ayo on Africa Magic Yoruba.

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