Nigeria’s markets are vibrant and full of life. In many cases, they are the economic engines of the towns and cities they call home. The bigger ones draw in visitors from far and wide and have gained acclaim from beyond the country’s borders.
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It’s a hard task telling which of Nigeria’s numerous markets are the largest of the lot. Data on the number of traders and the spread of the trading spaces are hard to come by. But it’s possible to compile a fairly accurate list of leading markets based on anecdotes and other kinds of pointers.
Here’s our list of the ten biggest markets in Nigeria, presented in no particular order.
Onitsha is home to West Africa’s largest market (in terms of size and trade volume). Leveraging its strategic position near the banks of the Niger, this trade spot has become a major centre for the sale of textiles, clothing, shoes, household items, and pharmaceuticals in the South East.
Computer village is West Africa’s largest ICT hub. As its name suggests, it’s filled with merchants who sell computers, tablets, smartphones, and IT accessories. There are also a large number of gadget repair shops in the area. Fueled by the introduction of mobile technology in the early 2000s, the market became the key point for the trade in IT products in Lagos.
Balogun market is spread over large segments of Lagos Island, covering several streets close to the Lagos business district. It’s known to be one of the biggest markets in West Africa and is perhaps the most important centre for the trade of shoes and clothes in Lagos.
Established in 1987, Ibadan’s Bodija market is one of the major produce markets in South-Western Nigeria. Much of the produce sold there comes from farmers in northern Nigeria, and the northern segments of Oyo state. There’s a definite arrangement of the stores, with each product sold in specific rows of stores.
Alaba International Market
Located in the South West of Lagos’s mainland area, Alaba is Nigeria’s largest electronics market. It’s also a centre for the repair of electronic appliances. It’s home to dealerships representing electronic brands from across the world.
Ariaria is Aba’s biggest market and the heart of the leather industry in South-Eastern Nigeria. Cobbler shops abound, as do thousands of stores selling shoes, purses and sandals, handbags, and belts. Buyers come in from many parts of Nigeria, and Cameroun.
Continually in use for over six centuries, Kurmi is one of Kano’s largest trading areas. It was once a major stop for Trans-Saharan commerce; these days, it caters mostly to local consumers. But it remains an important component of what is Northern Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre.
Idumota is one of two major markets in Lagos Island (the other being Balogun). It hosts thousands of stores, whose occupants are involved in the trade of various wares. The market is a distribution hub for Nollywood movies, a role it plays alongside Alaba.
Zaki Biam Yam Market
Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of yams, and the Zaki Biam Yam Market is at the heart of trade in the brown tuber. This is possible due to the market’s location in the country’s yam-growing belt (specifically Benue State). Buyers come into the market from across Nigeria, especially the southern regions where yams are more widely consumed.
Kano boasts a number of large trading areas. One of them, Kantin Kwari, is West Africa’s largest textile market. The variety of textiles on display includes Ankara, George fabrics, and English laces. Merchants there also sell jewellery. Visitors to the market come from as far away as Chad and Mali.
Nigeria’s markets are a testament to the commercial instincts of its people. These centres serve the country’s large and growing population, and harvest gains from beyond its borders. They will continue to play this role over the coming years and decades.
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