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A list of possible locations for significant investment could be drawn up based on factors which are considered important for the thriving of such set ups. Nigeria presents great opportunities and grave challenges, but for those who race into the thick of things to fill its market’s gaps, the rewards exceed the risks. But the investor’s eyes will run and pry, examining spaces and seeking out the best possible environment in which to sow and reap.

The list below has been drawn up with the following in mind: population size and purchasing power; the presence of various sorts of businesses and the linkages that exist between them; and the extent of development of infrastructure in these cities. Regional bias has been overlooked- after all, cold hard business decisions do not rest upon the sentiments of geopolitically inspired chauvinism.

  1. LAGOS

No questions- a city with an estimated population of about 20 million, numerous businesses headquartered within it, plus two seaports and a bustling international airport- what else is there to say? It has much better infrastructure than many other parts of the country, and its fast-paced, energetic and vibrant atmosphere is contagious. Just the sort of feel that attracts the business-minded.

  1. ABUJA

Nigeria’s capital city, with a fast growing population. Not as populated as Lagos, but boasts the highest per-Capita income of all the cities in the country, meaning that the purchasing power of its inhabitants is unmatched by those of any other on this list.

  1. KANO

The nerve centre of commerce in northern Nigeria, Kano is the country’s second largest city, and one of the top ten fastest growing cities in Africa, according to the African Development Bank. Manufacturing, though troubled by power challenges, still thrives here. Its markets also attract people from all parts of the country and beyond. In the words of Mark Turner of Massmart, “you can’t be in Nigeria without being in Kano”.


The city’s status as the biggest in the oil-producing Niger-Delta has probably served as a basis for its being recognized as a major business destination in Nigeria. Port Harcourt is said to have one of the fastest rates of growth in per-Capita Income in Nigeria. It is the commercial hub for the far-south, and has a large and diverse population, with a sizeable expatriate community. Some notable things about this city include its refinery, its status as the centre of oil-industry activity in Nigeria, as well as its airport and seaport.

  1. ABA

Admittedly, Aba isn’t on the list of the five largest cities in the country; but its population of over a million is incredibly energetic and entrepreneurial. From shoes to textiles, this city has formed a reputation for itself. Its markets attract business people from beyond the borders of Nigeria. A few have rightly remarked that it is a city in which every other corner is a business centre. It just smells like business, even from afar.

A top ten list would also include Ibadan, Onitsha, Ogbomosho, Kaduna and Benin City.


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This article was first published on 22nd April 2016


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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