Nigeria’s official language is English, which is widely used in the business community. This is especially the case in commercial hubs such as Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. The most common indigenous languages in Nigeria are Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. Pidgin English is widely used, particularly in Lagos, and it is recommended that visitors learn a few basic expressions.
Relationships are very important in the business community. Meetings usually start with a handshake, followed by a casual conversation about family, health and travel. In the predominantly Muslim north, business and leisure travellers should wait for a woman to extend her hand before offering theirs. Business discussions begin when the host initiates them.
Business formal is the dress code for foreigners in any type of meeting, with locals wearing either Western or traditional attire. At the end of the work week, many Nigerians will wear traditional garments. Appearance is generally very important and indicative of social and economic status.
A standard work week runs from Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm, with lunch at 1.00pm. Business hours may change during the month of Ramadan, most notably in the northern half of the country, where Islam is the predominant religion.
The national currency is the naira, which is issued in banknotes of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. As of mid-November 2021 the exchange rate stood at approximately N411:$1, N553:£1 and N464:€1. Major foreign currencies can be exchanged at the main entry points to Nigeria or at popular accommodation locations in the larger cities.
Nigeria’s dialling code is +234.
Most people use mobile phones with pre-paid SIM cards, which cost about N100 ($0.24). Recharge cards from licensed mobile operators are easily found in major cities at informal vendors, operator shops and convenience stores. While strained, internet access is improving and is available in commercial centres.
Power supply is inconsistent in cities connected to the national grid, including Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. As a result, most businesses and homes that can afford a backup generator use one. Nigeria has a 230-V, 50-Hz network. Two-pin EU and three-pin UK plugs are standard.
The majority of visitors must obtain a visa before arrival, applying in their home country with a letter of invitation from an organisation or individual within Nigeria. Citizens of ECOWAS nations can enter and remain in Nigeria without a visa for up to three months.
While public transport is limited, yellow and private taxi services are easily accessible. A typical fare between Victoria Island and Ikoyi in Lagos costs N500-1000 ($1.21-2.43). Smartphone applications such as Uber and Bolt have become quite popular in Lagos and are used by both locals and visitors. However, most business travellers still use a private car, which can cost N15,000-20,000 ($36.41-48.54) per day. Longer journeys are usually made by air, with an average trip between Lagos and Abuja costing around $140. The federal government and various states have enacted Covid-19 travel restrictions throughout 2020 and 2021, so check local rules before planning a trip.
The core business areas and expatriate neighbourhoods of Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki in Lagos are much more secure than other parts of the country. Individuals can move about safely during the day with reasonable self-awareness and caution, but foreigners should avoid walking alone at night. Security is continuously improving across Lagos.
Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required at all entry points. Purchasing anti-malarial drugs before travel is also recommended. Visitors are required to follow Covid-19 health procedures, which change frequently, but may include quarantine, a PCR test before arrival, wearing a mask and social distancing. There are many private health facilities in the more populous cities, with registration fees as low as N10,000 ($24.27).