African immigrants and Americans born to African immigrants have been described as an “Invisible Model Minority” mainly due to their high degree of success in the United States, but due to misconceptions and stereotypes of them, their success has not been acknowledged by the greater American society and other Western societies and thus they are “invisible”. The invisibility of the success of Africans was touched upon by Dr. Kefa M. Otiso, an academic professor from Bowling Green State University, who stated that “Because these immigrants come from a continent that is often cast in an unfavorable light in the U.S. media, there is a tendency for many Americans to miss the vital contribution of these immigrants to meeting critical U.S. domestic labor needs, enhancing American global economic and technological competitiveness”.
In the 2000 U.S. census, it was revealed that African Immigrants were the most educated immigrant group in the United States even when compared to Asian immigrants.Some 48.9 percent of all African immigrants hold a college diploma. This is more than double the rate of native-born white Americans, and nearly four times the rate of native-born African Americans. According to the 2000 Census, the rate of college diploma acquisition is highest among Egyptian Americans at 59.7 percent, followed closely by Nigerian Americans at 58.6 percent.
In 1997, 19.4 percent of all adult African immigrants in the United States held a graduate degree, compared to 8.1 percent of adult white Americans and 3.8 percent of adult black Americans in the United States. According to the 2000 Census, the percentage of Africans with a graduate degree is highest among Nigerian Americans at 28.3 percent, followed by Egyptian Americans at 23.8 percent.
Of the African-born population in the United States age 25 and older, 87.9% reported having a high school degree or higher, compared with 78.8% of Asian-born immigrants and 76.8% of European-born immigrants, respectively.
This success comes in spite of facts such as that more than 75 percent of the African foreign born in the United States have only arrived since the 1990s and that African immigrants make up a disproportionately small percentage of immigrants coming to the United States such as in 2007 alone African immigrants made up only 3.7 percent of all immigrants in coming to the United States and again in 2009 they made up only 3.9 percent of all immigrants making this group a fairly recent to the United States diversity.
Of the 8 percent of the Ivy League Universities’ such as Princeton population which are Black students at an overwhelming 50-66 percent was made up of Black African immigrants, Caribbean immigrants, and American born to those immigrants. Many top universities report that a disproportionate of the black student population consists of recent immigrants, their children, or were mixed race.
The overrepresentation of the highly skilled can be seen in the relatively high share of Black African immigrants with at least a four-year college degree. In 2007, 27 percent of the U.S. population aged 25 and older had a four-year degree or more; 10 percent had a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree. Immigrants from several Anglophone African countries were among the best educated: a majority of Black Immigrants from Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe had at least a four-year degree. Immigrants from Egypt, where the official language is Arabic, were also among the best educated.The overrepresentation of the highly skilled among U.S. immigrants is particularly striking for several of Africa’s largest source countries. The United States was the destination for 59 percent of Nigeria’s highly skilled immigrants along with 47 percent of those from Ghana and 29 percent from Kenya.
The average annual personal income of African immigrants is about $26,000, nearly $2,000 more than that of workers born in the U.S. This might be because 71 percent of the Africans 16 years and older are working, compared to 64 percent of Americans. This is believed to be due larger percentage of African immigrants have higher educational qualifications than Americans, which results in higher per capita incomes for African immigrants and Americans born to African immigrants.
Outside of educational success specific groups have found economic success and have made many contributions to American society such as Ugandan Americans. Recent statistics indicate that Ugandans have become one of the country’s biggest contributors to the economy, their contribution, amounting to US$1 billion in annual remittances which are disproportionately large contributions despite a community and population of less than 13,000.
African immigrants like many other immigrant groups are likely to establish and find success in small businesses. Many Africans that have seen the social and economic stability that comes from ethnic enclaves such as Chinatowns have recently been establishing ethnic enclaves of their own at much higher rates to reap the benefits of such communities.
Demographically African Immigrants and Americans born of African immigrants tend to typically congregate in urban areas, moving to suburban areas over the next few generations as they try to acquire economic and social stability. They are also one of America’s least likely groups to live in racially segregated areas.
African Immigrants and Americans born of African immigrants have been reported as having some of the lowest crime rates in the United States and being one of the unlikeliest groups to go into or commit crime. African immigrants have even been reported to have lowered crime rates in neighborhoods in which they have moved into.
Black immigrants from Black majority countries are revealed to be much healthier than Blacks from countries that are not majority Black and where they constitute a minority. Thus African immigrants are often much healthier than American-born Blacks and Black immigrants from Europe.
African immigrants outside the United States
Other than in the United States, Africans have experienced success in numerous other countries such as Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, which have attracted many educated and highly skilled African immigrants with enough resources for them to start a new life in these countries.
In the United Kingdom, one report has revealed that African immigrants have high rates of employment and that African immigrants are doing better economically than some other immigrant groups. Africans have obtained much success as entrepreneurs, many owning and starting many successful businesses across the country.Of the African immigrants, certain groups have become and are highly integrated into the country especially groups which have strong English language skills such as Zimbabweans or Nigerians, and they often come from highly educated and highly qualified backgrounds. Many African immigrants have low levels of unemployment, and some groups are known for their high rates of self-employment, as can be seen in the case of Nigerian immigrants. Certain groups outside of having strong English skills have found success mostly because many who immigrated to the UK are already highly educated and highly skilled professionals who come with jobs and positions such as business people, academics, traders, doctors and lawyers as is the case with Sudanese immigrants.
As of 2013, Nigerian immigrants were among the nine immigrant populations that were above average academically in the UK. Euromonitor International for the British Council suggests that the high academic achievement by Nigerian students is mainly from most of the pupils already having learned English in their home country. Additionally, many of them hail from the wealthier segments of Nigerian society, which can afford to pursue studies abroad. A notable example of the highly educated nature of British Nigerians is the case of Paula and Peter Imafidon, nine-year-old twins who are the youngest students ever to be admitted to high school in England. Nicknamed the ‘Wonder Twins’, the twins and other members of their family have accomplished incredible rare feats, passing advanced examinations and being accepted into institutions with students twice their age.