Abuja has been the capital of Nigeria since December 1991, when it replaced the former capital of Lagos. Abuja is a planned city – it is located in the middle of the Federal Capital Territory in the centre of Nigeria, and the territory was specifically created to encircle and support the city. The site also has political significance, as the area is ethnically and religiously neutral to Nigeria’s population.
Abuja is the fourth largest urban area in Nigeria, and in 2018 the city had a population of 2.9 million.1 While still smaller than Lagos, Abuja is the seventh fastest growing city in the world. Most areas in the city experience population growth of 35% each year.2
Abuja is the seat of Nigeria’s government. The National Assembly and Supreme Court are located in the city, and the Presidential Villa is built into one of the area’s most notable geographical features, Aso Rock. The state-owned Nigeria National Petroleum Company also has its headquarters in Abuja.
Key religious centres, including the Nigerian National Mosque and Nigerian National Christian Centre, draw both religious functionaries as well as some tourism. The city is serviced by the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, making it easily accessible by air. The airport, along with the presence of major government bodies in the city, have seen Abuja host several major events such as the 2014 World Economic Forum.
Singapore businesses that want to work closely with Nigeria’s government body will find Abuja an excellent location, given its proximity to the country’s legislative bodies.
1 CIA World Factbook, 2018
2 “Abuja Population 2018”, World Population Review
Lagos is a city in the Nigerian state of the same name, and the former capital of Nigeria. It is the most populous city in the country, and possibly the entire African continent. The exact population of Lagos is in dispute – the Nigerian government estimates it to be as high as 21 million.3 Due to its large population, you can find a sizeable market for consumer goods in the megacity.
Lagos is the eighth fastest growing African city in the world,4 and its population is expected to double in 2050. This will present infrastructure challenges, in areas such as education, healthcare, and transport.5 Besides facing the same housing shortages in the rest of Nigeria, residents in Lagos face issues of low housing affordability.6 At the Africa Singapore Business Forum in 2018, panellists noted that this issue was common across the continent, and Singapore’s construction-related businesses can find many opportunities in real estate development.
Lagos contributes 30% of Nigeria’s GDP despite having only 10% of its population.7 It is the centre of Nigeria’s manufacturing industry and finance sector. More recently, it has also become a tech hub.8
Lagos’ coastal location makes it instrumental for freight. The Lagos Port Complex is one of the busiest in Africa. Over 71.5 million tonnes of cargo was handled by the port complex in 2017.9
Murtala Muhammed International Airport (originally known as Largos Airport) is also located in the area, and is the main arrival point for 80% of flights to West Africa. In 2015, over seven million passengers passed through the airport.10 Its proximity to Lagos makes the megacity a convenient destination for foreign businesses.
3 “Lagos Population 2018”, World Population Review
4 “Top 20 Fastest Growing African Cities”, Africa Strictly Business
5 “Lagos 2050: How should Africa's biggest city prepare for doubling in size?” CNN, 2 October 2015
6 “Lagos living: Solving Nigeria's megacity housing crisis”, BBC 23 January 2017
7 “Economic opportunities and challenges in Lagos”, Internet Geography
8 “Nigerian economy: Why Lagos works”, Financial Times, 25 March 2018
9 Nigerian Ports Authority
10 “Economic opportunities and challenges in Lagos”, Internet Geography
Port Harcourt is a seven-metre port, located on the Bonny River in the Niger Delta. It has a population of over 2.3 million,11 and has been called the capital of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
Nigeria’s first oil shipment in 1958 was from Port Harcourt. The Port has continued to be an export point for petroleum from Niger River Delta. Capacity was enlarged with new facilities at Onne in the 1970s, and the Port now has bulk storage facilities for palm oil as well as petroleum.12
Many oil companies have established their presence in Port Harcourt, besides the state-owned Nigeria National Petroleum Company. These include Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell. The Port Harcourt Refining Company is also based in the area, and operates two refineries in Rivers Province, with an overall processing capacity of 210,000 barrels per day.13
Besides oil and gas, Port Harcourt also functions as the capital of Rivers Province and a major industrial centre. The Trans-Amadi Industrial estate, located just 6km north of the area, is a 1,000-hectare zone that produces aluminium products, glass bottles, paper, and tyres.
Port Harcourt proper has a wide range of product manufacturing, from concrete, paint, steel structural products to tobacco. The city also has truck and bicycle assembly plants, and the port has a long history in boat building and fishing.
Port Harcourt International Airport, located in Omagwa, is the third largest airport in Nigeria. Three international carriers operate at the airport – Air France, Lufthansa, and Region Air.
11 CIA World Factbook, 2018
12 “Port Harcourt, Nigeria”, Encyclopaedia Britannica
13 Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation