Nigerian Business Culture

Nigerian business culture - Flag of Nigeria

Looking to work or trade in Nigeria or perhaps you are looking to visit this wonderful African country for a business meeting? Are you looking for some information on Business Culture in Nigeria? Or perhaps you are looking to work with Nigerian business people or students?

On this page, we have everything you need, providing you with information on the aspects of Nigerian business culture business communication, Nigerian economy, weather, xenophobia, business meeting etiquette, internship and student placements.

Introduction to Business Culture in Nigeria

Located in West Africa, Nigeria is a country with a population of over 200 million people, making it the most populous country on the continent of Africa. The Nigerian population is equivalent to approximately 3 % of the total world population ranking it number 7 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population. The total land area is 910,770 Km2 (351,650 sq. miles) with 52.0 % of the population is urban (107,112,526 people in 2020)and median age in Nigeria is 18.1 years as of 2023.

Nigeria is a country with a dynamic, evolving and diverse business culture. It has the largest economy in Africa and with a rapidly growing population, which makes it an attractive destination for businesses looking to expand their operations. Understanding business culture of Nigeria is key to success in this market. Nigeria is a vibrant and wonderful country of friendly welcoming people, but it is incredibly important to mindful of the culture when visiting Nigeria and dealing with Nigerians in order to be successful and thrive.

Nigerian Economy

The Nigerian economy is one of the largest and most diverse in Africa, with a mixture of agriculture, oil and services contributing to its GDP. Oil production is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, accounting for more than 90% of export revenues and about 9% of GDP. The country is Africa’s largest oil producer and the 12th largest in the world. However, the volatility of the global oil market has made the Nigerian economy susceptible to fluctuations in oil prices and production levels known as the ‘oil curse‘. Nigeria’s other natural resources include natural gas, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc and arable land.

In recent years, the Nigerian government has made efforts to diversify the economy away from oil, with a focus on agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Agriculture is the largest employer in the country, providing jobs for over 70% of the population. The government has also introduced policies aimed at improving the ease of doing business in the country, attracting foreign direct investment, and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation. Nigeria also has a  dynamic and growing arts and culture scene and a thriving tech sector.

Despite these efforts, the Nigerian economy still faces significant challenges, including two recessions, high inflation and low growth. There are high levels of poverty and unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, and a developing educational system. Unemployment had been predicted to rise to over 40%. Despite a relatively stable political environment since 1999, corruption and political instability have been issues. The transparency International (TI) corruption perception index which ranked Nigeria 154 out of 180 countries. Overall, the Nigerian economy has great potential for growth and development, but much work still needs to be done to address these challenges and fully realize its potential.

Nigerian weather

As a West African country, Nigeria has a tropical climate characterized by two distinct seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. The Nigerian weather is usually hot humid and hot all through the year, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C.

The rainy season in Nigeria typically lasts from April to October, with the peak rainfall occurring in June and September. During this period, the weather is characterized by heavy downpours, thunderstorms, and high humidity levels. The rainforest regions of Nigeria experience the highest amount of rainfall during this period. On the other hand, the dry season in Nigeria runs from November to March, with little or no rainfall. During this period, the weather is hot and dry, with dusty and hazy conditions, especially in the northern parts of the country. The harmattan, a dry and dusty trade wind, blows across the country during the dry season, which often results in reduced visibility and respiratory problems.

The coastal areas of Nigeria are generally cooler and more humid than the northern parts of the country. The southern part of Nigeria, especially the Niger Delta region, experiences high levels of humidity and frequent rainfall throughout the year. In summary, the Nigerian weather is generally hot and humid, with distinct wet and dry seasons. It is important to note that the weather can vary significantly depending on the location within the country. Visitors to Nigeria are advised to check the weather conditions of their intended destination before any trip.

Xenophobia and Nigerian Business Culture

Nigerians are generally warm and open to meeting and doing business with foreigners, although the business environment can be competitive and  challenging. Xenophobia is the fear and hostility expressed against anyone perceived as a stranger, based on personal meaningful considerations. Nigeria is made up of more than 250 ethnic groups. Its history is demonstrates many examples of ethnic rivalry and competition. Competition for resources has been a big driver for conflicts along multiple groups. This has been fueled by a number of factors, including economic insecurity, political instability, and religious and ethnic tensions. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of xenophobic attacks against foreigners living in Nigeria, particularly those from other African countries. Likewise, Nigerians have been the victim of Xenophobic attacks from people in other countries, including South Africa.

While most visits for foreigners are trouble-free, insecurity is increasing across Nigeria. Kidnapping, violent crime, and inter-communal violence occurs throughout all regions of Nigeria. The potential threat of violence and instability can also damage a country’s reputation, which can make it less attractive to foreign investors and tourists. Nigeria’s business culture is complex and diverse, and it has the potential to drive the country’s economic growth and development.

Business meeting etiquette in Nigeria

A key part of Nigerian business culture is business meeting etiquette is an essential aspect of doing business in Nigeria, and it is important to understand the cultural norms and expectations when conducting business meetings. In Nigeria, punctuality is highly valued, and it is essential to arrive on time for meetings. It is also common to exchange pleasantries and engage in small talk before getting down to business. Dressing appropriately and professionally is also important, as it shows respect for the meeting and the individuals attending.

“If you’re committed to business in Nigeria you have to know that you’re entering an environment that requires your constant attention and constant renegotiation. Adaptability and flexibility on your part is key,” – Dean Foster

Tanzanian and Nigerian Delegation Meet with Governor” by MDGovpics is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

You should dress smartly for any meetings in Nigeria. Dress code will signal your level of seriousness and importance. Increasingly, different areas of Nigeria and different businesses have different dress codes, so you should check this specifically when you visit. If in doubt, then formal dress would be advised.

Formal dress includes men and women should wear a dark, business style suit and men should wear a tie. Men should wear dark suits and ties and women should wear dark, demure business-style suits. Nigeria is a hot country, so make sure clothing is lightweight but you are not exposing too much skin as this would be seen as taboo in most business settings.

During the meeting, it is essential to listn carefully and avoid interrupting others while they are speaking. It is also common to address individuals by their titles, such as “Dr.” or “Chief,” as a sign of respect. Finally, it is customary to exchange business cards at the end of the meeting and follow up with a thank-you email or note to express appreciation for the opportunity to meet.

1. Agreeing with people is considered to be a sign of respect. Nigerians sometimes say “yes” to a request because their respect for you does not allow them to say “no.”

2. Meetings are not always private – your meeting may be interrupted by phone calls or visits from your client’s friends and family.

3. In some situations (you can check in advance) some Nigerians would expect you to leave some food on your plate – this is a signal that you have had enough. If you clean your plate, you are signalling that you want more food.

4. Nigerians can sometimes stand close to each other while speaking.

5. Nigerians expect to bargain and compromise

Nigeria’s education system

Nigeria has a diverse education system, with both private and public institutions offering education from primary to tertiary levels. The system is largely influenced by the British education system, due to Nigeria’s colonial history. Primary education in Nigeria is compulsory and lasts for six years. Children are typically enrolled in primary school between the ages of six and seven. The curriculum includes subjects such as English, mathematics, social studies, and science.

Secondary education in Nigeria consists of junior secondary school (JSS) and senior secondary school (SSS). JSS lasts for three years, while SSS lasts for three years. Students take a range of subjects including mathematics, English language, science, social studies, and one or more additional languages. At the tertiary level, Nigeria has universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education. Universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines. Polytechnics and colleges of education provide vocational training and offer certificates and diplomas.

The Nigerian education system has faced a number of challenges over the years, including inadequate funding, inadequate facilities, and teacher shortages. However, the government has taken steps to address these challenges and improve the quality of education in the country and reform is on the way.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the use of technology in education in Nigeria. Some schools have adopted e-learning systems and online platforms to enhance the learning experience for students. Nigerian students are excellent travellers and have taken up opportunities with some of the best Universities in the world and in order to take up employment opportunities. The UK has some of the best Universities in the world and given favourable Visa and post study work Visa’s – the UK has been the most preferred destination for Nigerian students. Currency and Visa changes can affect the student numbers and applicants. 

Taboos in Nigerian Business Culture

Nigeria is a culturally diverse country with a rich history and traditions. Like many other cultures around the world, there are certain taboos that are deeply ingrained in Nigerian society. These taboos are believed to be sacred and are taken very seriously, even to this day. Here are some of the most prominent Nigerian cultural taboos:

  1. Disrespecting Elders: In Nigerian culture, elders are highly respected and are considered to be the repository of wisdom and knowledge. Disrespecting elders is seen as a grave taboo and is often punished severely.
  2. Eating Certain Foods: Certain foods are considered taboo in Nigerian culture. For instance, some cultures in Nigeria believe that eating dog meat or cat meat is a taboo and is a sign of bad luck.
  3. Stealing: Stealing is considered a taboo in Nigerian culture. Some Nigerians believed that anyone who engages in stealing will be cursed and will suffer a string of misfortunes.
  4. Homosexuality: Homosexuality is widely seen as a taboo in Nigerian culture. It is considered to be against the natural order of things and is often punished severely.
  5. Pointing with the Feet: In Nigerian culture, pointing with the feet is seen as disrespectful. It is believed that using the feet to point at someone or something is a sign of disrespect and is often frowned upon.
  6. Breaking Cultural Norms: Breaking cultural norms and traditions is also considered taboo in Nigerian culture. This includes things like disrespecting traditional rulers, disregarding cultural practices, and failing to adhere to social norms.

In conclusion, Nigerian cultural taboos are deeply ingrained in the country’s rich history and traditions. They serve as a way of promoting social order and are believed to be sacred. Despite the modernization and western influence, these taboos are still widely respected and observed in Nigeria today.

Nigerian skills and infrastructure

Nigeria has a large and skilled workforce, with many people proficient in various trades and professions. Nigeria’s education system is one of the largest in Africa, with many universities and vocational schools. Nigeria’s higher education institutions produce a significant number of graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Nigeria is also known for its vibrant tech sector, with many young and innovative entrepreneurs.

Infrastructure: Nigeria has invested heavily in its infrastructure in recent years, with significant improvements in roads, bridges, airports, and seaports. Nigeria is also home to the largest network of fiber optic cables in West Africa, providing high-speed internet connectivity to millions of people. Nigeria is also working on expanding its power grid, which is vital for the country’s development.

According to a report by the IFC and Google, Africa’s internet economy is one of the largest overlooked investment opportunities available, with a potential to add US$180 billion to Africa’s GDP by 2025.(source)

Internships and placements in Nigeria

Internship and student placements have become increasingly important in Nigeria as more companies and organisations realise the value of on the job training and the opportunity to identify new potential employees. There has been a growing trend in Nigeria towards students participating in internships and student placements to gain real-world experience and develop practical skills that can be applied in their future careers and as a great way for students to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical experience.

In Nigeria, many universities and colleges have recognized the importance of internships and student placements and have made it a requirement for students to complete an internship before graduating. This is a positive development as it ensures that students are adequately prepared for the workforce and have practical experience that can give them a competitive advantage when seeking employment.

Internships and student placements also a key part of Nigerian business culture as they benefit employers by providing them with a source of potential employees who have already demonstrated their ability to work in a professional environment. Additionally, employers can use these programs to identify talented individuals who can be trained and developed within their organisation.

One of the major challenges is the lack of opportunities available to students, particularly those in rural areas or from low-income families. Additionally, there is a need for more structured programs that provide students with a clear understanding of what is expected of them during their placement and how they will be evaluated.

In conclusion, Nigeria has a lot to offer when it comes to skills and infrastructure. The country’s skilled workforce and improved infrastructure are crucial for its economic development and growth. With continued investment in these areas, Nigeria can continue to be a leader in the region and beyond. Please do contact us if you require more information or tell us what you think of the guide.