Relationships are very important within the business community. Meetings typically open with a handshake, followed by a casual conversation about family, health and travel. The discussion of the topic at hand begins at the host’s indication.
Business formal is the required dress code for foreigners in any type of meeting, while locals tend to opt for either Western or traditional attire. In many work spaces, Nigerians will wear traditional garments on Fridays. Appearance is generally very important and indicative of social and economic status.
A former British colony, Nigeria’s official language is English, which is widely used in the business community. This is particularly true in commercial hubs such as Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. Of the hundreds of indigenous languages found in Nigeria, the most common are Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.
The normal workweek runs from Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm. During the month of Ramadan, business hours may differ slightly; this is particularly true in the northern half of the country, where Islam is the predominant religion.
Western visitors must obtain a visa in advance of arriving in Nigeria and must apply in their country of origin with a letter of invitation from an organisation or individual within the country. Citizens of ECOWAS nations can remain in the country without a visa for a period of up to three months.
The national currency of Nigeria is the naira (N), which is free-floating. Bills come in denominations of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. As of September 2016, the exchange rate stood at around N315:$1, N409:£1 and N355:€1. Foreign tenders can be exchanged and licensed at major entry points to the country. A popular exchange point is at the Eko Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos.
Power supply is highly erratic in cities connected to the national grid, including Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. As a result, the majority of businesses and homes that can afford it use back-up generators. Nigeria has a 230-V, 50-Hz network. Twopin EU and three-pin UK plugs are standard.
The country dialling code is +234. Most people in the business community use mobile phones with pre-paid SIM cards, which cost approximately N100 ($0.50). Recharge cards from licensed mobile operators are widely available throughout major cities at informal vendors, operator shops and convenience stores. While strained, internet access and latency is improving and can be found in most large commercial centres.
Travelling by road is the most common form of transportation in Nigeria, and public transportation is limited. Yellow taxis and private taxi services are readily available in the streets. A typical fare, for a trip between Victoria Island and Ikoyi in Lagos, costs N1000-N1500 ($5-$7.50).
Smartphone applications such as Uber and Easy Taxi have become quite popular in Lagos and are used by both locals and expatriates. However, most business travellers still use a private car, which can cost roughly N20,000-N25,000 ($100-$125) per day. Longer trips are usually made by air, with an average trip between Lagos and Abuja costing roughly $140.
The main business centres and expatriate neighbourhoods of Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki Phase 1 in Lagos have maintained a much lower risk profile compared to other parts of Nigeria. With a reasonable level of self-awareness and caution, individuals can move safety throughout the day, although foreigners should avoid walking at night.
Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for all entry points into the country. Most travel doctors also highly recommend purchasing anti-malarial drugs prior to travelling to Nigeria. There are many private health facilities in the more populous cities, with registration fees as low as N10,000 ($50). Visitors should only drink bottled or sachet water.
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