Nigeria is one of the most highly-populated countries in Africa, as well as being one of the oil-richest countries in the world. It is a country high in natural resources, with good access via its ports. However, it also suffers from a poor general infrastructure, as well as having seen decades of political instability and corruption.
Ethnic groups: Over 250 ethnic groups. The Fulani or Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo are the largest, making up 68 percent of the population.
Capital: Abuja (but the largest city is Lagos)
National holidays: New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Good Friday and Easter Monday (Usually April – dates vary, same as UK), Worker’s Day (May 1), Children’s Day (May 27), Democracy Day (May 29), Commemoration (Jun 12), Independence Day (Oct 1), Christmas Day (Dec 25), Boxing Day (Dec 26). Some other Muslim holidays are also recognised as national holidays although their dates move: Ramadan, Mawlid, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
Business hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm
Well over 300 languages are spoken throughout Nigeria, although English is the most widely-used and is spoken by the majority of government and business figures. When addressing one another, people will often use titles such as boss or doctor rather than names.
Conversation may seem a lot more personal than in the UK – however, in Nigeria, such conversation is a sign of friendship.
Business structures vary greatly throughout Nigeria, Local businesses, however, are often hierarchical, and managers tend to be older men as age is respected. Managers both expect and receive respect. Although middle managers rarely have much power they may play an important role in decision-making so treat them accordingly.
One thing you should always consider in Africa is personal safety. Large parts of the country are quite dangerous so always ensure that someone you know, or someone representing the company you are dealing with, meets you at the airport. Also remember that infrastructure is poor and telephone services are unreliable, so try to make appointments in person.
Meetings will often start late, but you should try to be on time regardless. There is likely to be a great deal of social interaction at meetings – do not try to rush through it.
Because relationships are very important to Nigerians, you can expect teams to work well together, as long as team members have good individual relationships. If they do not feel comfortable with each other teams are less likely to succeed. You must also be aware that due to the multitude of languages and religions present in the country there are likely to be some underlying tensions – ensure that these do not become an issue.
If a team has been put together and is working well it is probably best not to try and alter it. Always ensure that teams have an authoritative leader.
Always dress well – stick to dark suits, but remember that the weather can get extremely hot, so stick to lightweight fabrics.