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Nigeria is the most populated country on the continent of Africa and is the engine of the land. It is both culturally and economically diverse and is home to the offices of countless large corporations. However, for all of Nigeria’s brashness, the divide between rich and poor is unbelievable.
The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, release their global Prosperity Index annually. The survey ranks the most prosperous countries in the world. Many assume prosperity is used in reference to the financial standing of a country and, while this is included, the Legatum Institute considers more factors in its ranking.
Ranking in 128th place this year (out of 149 countries) was Nigeria. This puts Nigeria in the bottom 15%, with its rankings for safety and security (145th), healthcare (142nd), and economic quality (131st) being part way responsible for its poor placing. Nigeria’s best result was position 47 social capital, a category which takes into consideration social norms, personal relationships and civic participation.
The powerhouse of Africa, is Nigeria really as unpromising as the Prosperity Index suggests, or is there more to the country than meets the eye?
Nigeria has a middle-income, mixed economy and emerging market. In terms of GDP, it ranks in 21st position globally and it is the financial capital of Africa. Since 2014, Nigeria has seen huge financial growth and this is due to an influx of activity in the telecommunications, banking, and film industries. Many Nigerian expats are returning from their lives abroad to benefit from the strongest economy of any African country.
The official currency of Nigeria is the Nigerian naira (NGN). One naira is divided into 100 kobo. There are eight naira notes, split into denominations of 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 NGN. Coins are 1 and 2 NGN and 50 kobo.
Securing a property as an expat in Nigeria can be daunting. Demand far outweighs supply and there is very little to satisfy those who require Western standards. For this reason, the cost of renting one of the ‘nicer’ properties is often beyond the budget for most professionals.
Expats who have been relocated by an employer are often the most settled expats in Nigeria. This is because most companies secure suitable homes for their employees and cover the rent and any leasing logistics. In some parts of Nigeria, companies actually own properties or complexes of apartments specifically for foreign staff.
If you are moving to Nigeria for work purposes, ensure that accommodation is in your contract. This is standard practice for most companies. If a property hasn’t been secured on your arrival, you may end up in a hotel for a week or two close to your new job.
If you do not have a relocation package in place as you are not moving to Nigeria for work, another option is to sub-let from a friend. If you have no accommodation or immediate employment available many do not advise a move to Nigeria.
One thing that concerns expats living in Nigeria is the lack of quality healthcare. There are the usual hospitals, pharmacies and clinics you would expect in the cities and towns of such a country, but the facilities are poor and staff are often left stretched and undertrained. For this reason, diseases such as cholera, tetanus and polio are still prevalent despite Nigeria being considered a developed country.
Usually, expats in Nigeria utilise the private clinics and hospitals located in the larger towns and cities. However, even these lack the quality of their Western counterparts. Routine check-ups and minor issues are easily treated at these facilities. However, more complicated medical problems are harder to diagnose due to dated equipment and staff who lack expertise in specialised fields. Therefore, many expats actually visit home if they require a specialist doctor.
The vast majority of Nigerian children suffer from poor teaching facilities and lack of staff, resulting in packed classes. Some schools lack basic necessities such as running water and electricity. The problems lies at the feet of the federal, state and local governments as the responsibility for education is shared between them. This leads to conflict in opinions and little is achieved.
Originally, many Nigerian schools were in the hands of missionaries, who provided children with excellent teaching and fantastic facilities that were on par with the rest of the world at the time. Lost of Nigerian parents wish this would be reinstated.
Understandably, the vast majority of expat children attend international schools, whilst the remainder are home schooled. International schools tend to be found in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, and other cities and larger towns. The average cost per annum tends to be around $30,000 which is £22,433.
Getting from A to B in Nigeria can be challenging if you are not a local. The roads are chaotic and local drivers have their own rules they abide by. Whilst picking up a car is relatively inexpensive, it is highly recommended that expats do not take to the road. However, with public transport best avoided due to safety issues, what options are there for expats?
For expats that live close enough to their work and local amenities, walking or cycling is often relied upon. However, considering that the vast majority of expats in Nigeria have been relocated by their companies, most packages come with a car and driver. Some even come with security and the bill is footed by the business.
Nigeria’s biggest earner is oil and there are headquarters of multinational companies present in the country. There are also plenty of opportunities for expats in mining, construction, IT, telecommunications and general business sectors.
Most expats who end up working in Nigeria tend be highly-qualified and skilled individuals. Job openings are often for project management, chartered accountancy, HR management, business development, engineering, or IT management roles.
Salaries for expats in Nigeria can be up to 45% higher than what they receive at home. This is to cover higher rental prices and safety factors that come with working in the African country. However, some benefits packages for expats also include free or subsidised accommodation and chauffeured transport.
Comparison to UK
The world’s largest database, Numbeo, has a vast selection of user-contributed data in regards to Nigeria. Compared to the UK, the cost of living is significantly less in Nigeria.
The tables below provide an over view of the differences in costs between Nigeria and the UK. Please note that all Nigerian prices have been converted into British pounds.
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