Happy Africa Day!! Chinese hackers in Kenya, Crypto funding slows, the Ethiopian prince͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
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snowstorm Lagos
snowstorm Changsha
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May 25, 2023


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Alexis Akwagyiram
Alexis Akwagyiram

Hi! Welcome to Semafor Africa where we dig into some of the biggest stories around the continent three times a week.

Most successful politicians are divisive figures. Nigeria’s outgoing president, Muhammadu Buhari, is rare in this respect. He made history in 2015 by becoming the country’s first opposition politician to defeat an incumbent president within two years of setting up a new political party. But Buhari’s legacy in office is so unambiguously one of failure that — days before Bola Tinubu is sworn in on Monday — it’s uncontentious to say most Nigerians are worse off now than when he came to power. During his two-term presidency, Nigeria endured two recessions, the cost of living soared, and kidnapping for ransom became common.

Nigerians with the money and connections to leave have fled in their droves during Buhari’s eight years in power. The mass exodus of the middle class was so marked that it was given a name: “Japa.” The slang term means “flee” or “run” in Yoruba. A well-trodden route involves securing a visa for postgraduate studies in Britain and bringing relatives. Now Britain’s right-leaning government, under pressure amid record net migration, is closing that route into the country.

At Semafor Africa, we’re committed to reporting on what we call “Global Africans,” by which we mean examining the lives of Africans in an increasingly interconnected world. With this in mind, I reported on the impact Britain’s migrant crackdown will have on Nigerians, while Alexander Onukwue spoke to students in Lagos to hear about their plans for the future.

Need to know

🇰🇪 Chinese hackers targeted eight of Kenya's ministries and government departments, including the office of the president, over a three-year period from late 2019, Reuters reports. Cybersecurity analysts, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the hackers sought information on debt owed to Beijing by Kenya. The East African country has used more than $9 billion in Chinese loans to build or upgrade railways, ports, and highways.

Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

🇸🇳 Senegal's opposition leader Ousmane Sonko could face 10 years in prison if Wednesday’s request by the country’s public prosecutor to find him guilty on rape charges is granted on June 1. Sonko is accused of sexually assaulting and making death threats to a woman in 2021; allegations he has denied. He has said the allegations against him are a ploy to bar him from running in the presidential elections in 2024, which Senegal's President Macky Sall and his government have denied.

🌍 Brazilian fintech unicorn EBANX plans to have opened operations in 11 African markets by the end of this year, one of its executives told TechCrunch. The payments processing company — which operates across Latin America and is already live in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya — offers a rare case of a Latin American tech startup expanding into Africa.

🇷🇼 Former Rwandan police chief Fulgence Kayishema, one of the last four fugitives sought for their role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, was arrested in South Africa on Wednesday, UN investigators said in a statement. Kayishema is alleged to have orchestrated the killing of around 2,000 Tutsi refugees at the Nyange Catholic Church. He has been on the run since July 2001 and was living under a false name in Paarl, a small town about 35 miles north-east of Cape Town.


The rate of growth year-on-year, in trade volume, between China’s central Hunan province and African countries in the first four months of 2023. According to Chinese customs statistics, Hunan's three largest trade partners were South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt. Goods exported to African markets included mechanical and electrical, textile, and garments. Imports from Africa included agricultural products. In the first four months, Hunan had imported 150 million yuan ($21.3 million) of agricultural products from Africa. This year’s China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo is set to take place in Changsha, Hunan in June.

Alexis Akwagyiram

A favorite Nigerian student UK visa route is being closed


Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of African postgraduate students will no longer be able to bring family members to Britain under reforms to curb migration, in a shift that will force future generations of top students to pursue opportunities elsewhere.

Nigerians will be particularly hard hit by the rule change, which will come into force in January and applies to all foreign students. Students from Africa’s most populous country make up one of the biggest groups of foreign students in the UK and have in recent years brought more dependents — typically children and partners — than those from any other nation.

Home Office figures show Nigeria had 60,923 dependents of sponsored study visa holders in 2022. India, the world's most populous nation, had the second highest number of dependents — 38,990.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s right-leaning government announced the new restrictions earlier this week, ahead of the publication of official figures today that show 606,000 more people moved to Britain than left the country last year — a record high.


Tuition fee income from non-EU students has grown substantially over the last 20 years, making up nearly a fifth of UK universities’ total income in 2020/21, according to the Home Office. Despite this, Britain’s government has been accused of implementing anti-African policies in higher education. Late last year it launched a new program for postgraduate foreign students — High Potential Individual visa — but those with degrees from African universities are ineligible.


Britain’s attempts to curb the number of economic migrants entering the country will affect people across Africa — but Nigerians will be the big losers. With its large population, people from the West African country vastly outnumber other Africans pursuing higher education in Britain.

More young middle class Nigerians with the means to travel have for the last couple of decades left the country to pursue education and better work opportunities overseas. The UK, Canada and United States are typically the preferred destinations and many do return. But dwindling employment opportunities, runaway inflation, a crumbling higher education system and rising insecurity has sparked a large-scale exodus of young Nigerians in the last two years known locally as “Japa”. It's a slang term meaning “flee” or “run” in the Yoruba language widely spoken in southwest Nigeria.

"We're beginning to see that a lot of people just hide behind the studentship. So the student thing is not real, it's not like they need the degrees," Emdee Tiamiyu, a Nigerian influencer, told the BBC this week.

Tiamiyu apologized on his YouTube channel after a social media backlash in which he was accused of betraying Nigerians but the points he made ring true — for Nigerians who can afford it, studying in Britain and taking family offers a path out of Nigeria. Figures from Britain’s Home Office analyzed by Semafor Africa back up the trend. It shows that five years after graduation a larger proportion of Nigerians who arrived on a student visa remained in Britain on work visas.

But the era of using studies to migrate and take relatives is coming to an end.

Britain's ruling Conservative party wants to reduce the number of foreigners who they argue take up housing and jobs, as well as putting a strain on the health system.

More attempts to cut immigration are likely in the run up to Britain's next election. And, as the High Potential Visa showed, any initiatives to attract top talent to Britain are likely to exclude Africans.

None of this stop Nigerians pursuing a future overseas, it just means more will seek opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.


Britain's main opposition party, Labour, is ahead of the ruling Conservatives in opinion polls with a general election widely expected next year. Labour leader Keir Starmer has said he would not want to reduce the number of foreign students if his party was in government. "I want good students to come to the UK," he said in a BBC interview on Monday. "I don't think that’s the main issue," he added, on the subject of foreign students who bring their dependents.


"It's unfair that the UK wants to keep taking our money that fuels their economy but we can't bring dependents because they don't think we are productive yet," said 25-year-old Oluwafemi Akinsanya, who's studying integrated science and education at the University of Lagos. He said he has no desire to study in the UK because "whatever you do when you go to these countries, you're going to be a second class citizen."

Eucharia Ofonegbu, 32, wants to study in Britain some day — when she can afford it. But she says the policy would be an impediment if she were married, a view echoed by her classmate, Tola Olaitan. "It means I wouldn't be able to take up an admission offer. I have a family and my children are still young," said Olaitan, a 51-year-old postgraduate student of public and international affairs.

— Reporting by Alexander Onukwue in Lagos



The downward trend of tech fundraising this year has been particularly brutal for Africa’s crypto startups. They raised just $1 million in the first quarter, according to a tally by Emerging Onchain which shows funding data going back to 2020. Africa’s crypto startups reached a high point of nearly $80 million in investment in the third quarter of last year, the period before the blockbuster collapse of the FTX exchange. A couple of crypto companies serving African consumers and businesses, notably Lazerpay and Paxful, have shut up shop in the months since, triggering some introspection about the future of crypto in Africa.

One Good Text

There was a huge sigh of relief when the International Monetary Fund approved a $3 billion loan program for Ghana last week. The West African country defaulted on its debt payments a few months ago, triggering an economic crisis. Bright Simons is a Ghanaian policy analyst.

Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Buckingham Palace rejected a request to exhume and return the remains of Ethiopia’s Prince Alemayehu, who died in 1879 aged 18 and whose remains are still buried at Windsor Castle in the UK. This is not the first time the request has been made. In 2007, the country's then-President Girma Wolde-Giorgis sent a formal request to Queen Elizabeth II for the body to be sent back. The request was denied. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson told the BBC that removing Prince Alemayehu’s remains could not be done without affecting others buried in the catacombs of St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. “It is very unlikely that it would be possible to exhume the remains without disturbing the resting place of a substantial number of others in the vicinity." One of the prince’s royal descendants, Fasil Minas, said "we want his remains back as a family and as Ethiopians because that is not the country he was born in."

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— Yinka, Alexis, Marché Arends, Alexander Onukwue, and Muchira Gachenge

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