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Africa's Biggest Markets


Did You Know? Nigeria is Home to 37 of Africa’s Biggest Markets

Nigeria still wears the ‘Giant of Africa’ tag. And it’s not just for show. We’ve known for a while that Nigeria is the continent’s largest economy (a position which it relinquished only for a few months in 2016). We might want to remind ourselves that it is being helped by its huge population and oil wealth, but oil money and two hundred million heads isn’t an automatic ticket to becoming a $350 billion+ economy.

There’s something else that bears this fact out. Nigeria has far more thriving consumer markets than anywhere else in Africa. In fact, almost 40% of the continent’s largest, wealthiest and most networked cities are located within Nigeria’s borders.

That’s what the Fraym report bears out. It’s a study of Africa’s emerging consumer centres, which covers all 54 countries on the continent. Unlike other reports of this kind, it breaks down the geopolitical nation-states into smaller units- typically cities and urban clusters- and determines how much buying power the populations in these centres have. The results show that, of the 100 cities surveyed, Nigeria has the lion share of such markets, with 37- far more than any other country.

Of the top 20 cities on Fraym’s list, four are Nigerian. Lagos comes in as first in Nigeria and third in Africa; Abuja, Kano and Ibadan also make it to the first twenty, in 17th, 18th and 19th places respectively. Some other cities at the upper end of the list include Egypt’s Cairo, which occupies first place, and South Africa’s Johannesburg, which ranks second.

Fraym’s report covers cities with populations of over 300,000. The researchers who came up with it say they evaluated the cities based on three criteria: the volume of economic activity which goes on within their metropolitan areas; the number of people living in a home with a car, motorbike, television or refrigerator; and the network of roads and availability of air transport.

Outside of the top 20, two other Nigerian cities, Port Harcourt (in 22nd place) and Benin City (32) also make an impression. On the whole, 37 urban centres, representing a wide geographical spread within Nigeria, also take spots on Fraym’s list. The report notes that Lagos has a larger consumer population than all thirteen East African cities on the list combined. Nigeria’s urban consumers are said to number more than 40 million individuals.

Apart from Nigeria, South Africa also makes a decent showing, with nine cities appearing in the report. Egypt has four; Angola and Ghana both have three.

The Fraym report seeks to tell the story of Africa’s growing consumer class in numbers. Its creators point out that their approach, which considers purchasing power as partly determined by consumer’s specific urban locations, is probably a better way to understand the continent’s emerging product buyers.

Perhaps it’s not a wonder that the experts speak of Nigeria’s economic potentials in glowing terms. Beyond the obvious challenges the country battles with, there’s a brighter era of prosperity waiting to be taken hold of. Hopefully, we’re on our way to it.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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