Weather extremes have harmful impacts on communities around Lake Victoria, where thousands of fishermen die every year because of intense night-time thunderstorms. Yet how these thunderstorms will evolve in a future warmer climate is still unknown. Here we show that Lake Victoria is projected to be a hotspot of future extreme precipitation intensification by using new satellite-based observations, a high-resolution climate projection for the African Great Lakes and coarser-scale ensemble projections. Land precipitation on the previous day exerts a control on night-time occurrence of extremes on the lake by enhancing atmospheric convergence (74%) and moisture availability (26%). The future increase in extremes over Lake Victoria is about twice as large relative to surrounding land under a high-emission scenario, as only over-lake moisture advection is high enough to sustain Clausius–Clapeyron scaling. Our results highlight a major hazard associated with climate change over East Africa and underline the need for high-resolution projections to assess local climate change.