Lagos, Nigeria bleg

I’ll be there soon!  What should I do and see and eat?  I thank you in advance for your suggestions.

I am a big believer in going places to learn things and for me this is the next step.  I am looking forward to the trip.


Mealworms, perhaps? Bring your own utensils though.

Make sure you eat Jollof Rice.

As for what to see, make sure you visit the poor and vulnerable people of Makoko, the bustling Balogun market at the hearth of Lagos, the informal forex market at the airport and the developing tech strip in Yaba.

One last thing, make sure you check out Freedom Park, especially if you're in Lagos on the 3rd Friday of the month.

- Jazzhole - book and music store
- One of the megachurches with large congregations and celebrity preachers - I was struck by how much of the preaching was about entrepreneurship and making money
- CC Hub, Yaba - Nigeria based startups
- "Computer Village" in Ikeja - large electronics market, good lens to where things current stand with "tech". Impressive product offerings, most shops were powered by diesel generators when I visited.
- Yellow Chilli restaurant - Nigerian food
- Bogobiri - live music and performances
- Eko Atlantic City - I don't know of its current progress, but it is a project of impressive scale being built on land reclaimed from the Atlantic
- Drive over the Third Mainland bridge (connecting Lagos Island and the mainland) at peak hour (budget a lot of time!) and observe transport, markets, people's reactions

May I suggest an extended stay. 8 years perhaps.

Surely there are diminishing returns after 4.


If you want, I think I can organize for you through my friend James Tooley a visit to low-cost private schools in the slums, accompanied by the President of AFED, Association of Formidable Education Developers, the trade federation. Check out the minute 4 of this video, and again the minute 8.30.;English
If you are interested, write me at my mail, you should have it, your site asks for it every time I post. Enjoy the trip.

"formidable education"?

Yeah :-). James told me that Nigerians like a bit of hipérbole sometimes.
Do check the video Dmitri, it is about 15 minutes, and it is very interesting if you want to have an idea how the poor in poor countries are actually educated.

Maybe you'll meet someone who knows how things have been going with the SEZs. Is it possible to visit one of them? (There are two larger coastal-ish ones.) It's supposed to be one of those "not quite a silver bullet" sort of ideas for getting certain kinds of development happening faster/better.

Also, it might be interesting to find predictions on how long it will take for Nigeria to become the largest country by population to not have a domestic auto producer.

How do you define that?

Nigeria is already the largest country where zero automobiles are manufactured.

Pakistan and Indonesia both lack a purely domestic brand, but a significant portion of the auto manufacturing industry is locally owned (in partnership with major international auto makers).

Thankfully, who needs to manufacture such things when a select few can get rich selling oil to those who build cars.

I'm pretty sure that Trump's secretary of state has a very firm grasp on how this works. And really, he would be in an ideal position to ensure that Nigeria's deal remains the same. He likely as uninterested as Cheney in letting the U.S. make the same sort of mistakes that occurred both with Mexico (no foreign ownership of oil properties) and Brasil (a country that has surpassed ExxonMobil when it comes to deepsea drilling output, in reference to Brasil's own deepwater reserves).

An executive wants countries to allow his company to operate in them? Gasp!!!! How corrupt!!!!

Nothing like an explicit effort to keep someone down to drive them straight to the competition.

Who needs enemies when you have allies who openly plot your long-term economic stagnation from a starting point of poverty?

This gets me thinking that maybe Tata motors would have high likelihood to get high market share in production in that market.

Probably when they're doing final assembly? As you imply, the bar is set incorrectly for most practical purposes - it shouldn't really matter much to the domestic economy if it is a local brand or not.

On the one hand, there is little protection for liability in Nigeria ...

But the costs of a small mistake can add up big. I don't think there's much constructive in laying out all the various things to get in the way, unless you really want to get into it. But such an assembly production in Nigeria .... I think would just have a LOT of problems.

They will prove that wrong when they do. But I imagine they will prove it right for some absurd amount of time first ... recall, this is the country where the person responsible for being able to answer such questions might not be sure whether the amount of missing oil money in a given year is $10 billion or $20 billion. Do you want to set up a production facility in that country?

You'd have to tap some trustworthy connections, but it would be fascinating to check out an illegal oil bunkering operation.

Please visit some Nigerian email scammers and observe their supply chain.

Maybe you can contact the Prince that wanted to sent me $18 million dollars after I gave him my bank account information. He'd be good for a really nice lunch.

Anyhow, evade the Boko Haram.

Lived next door to Nigeria for several years. To really 'get' Nigeria you have to get out in the townships and local areas compared to traveling anywhere in Europe. Walk into a giant church to observe a true belief in a mix of animism and Christianity. If you have time, just observe the local public schools for a few hours. If you're lucky, you might be able to observe a 'coming of age' ritual (it was extremely similar to 70s Roots tv series). Buy some penny chips or the candy from one of the ubiquitous 'shops' to get a sense of what the kids spend snack on. Order the street food...any chicken stew is delicious. I particularly liked the various 'tomato gravy' on rice dishes. Of course, bring hand sanitizer!

There's nothing like Michelin or Bib Gourmand in Nigeria. They have expensive Americanized 'african' restaurants that cater to the luxury western traveler, but these completely miss the real experience of Nigeria, and are inferior to what you could find in DC.

N.B: Be *very* safe and aware of your surroundings.

+1 to chicken stew is delicious.
I have Nigerian friends who make that and it is very delicious.

You should check on the film/video industry – aka Hollywood, it's the world's third largest, and all but 'native' digital. There's a particular district in Lagos where most of the distribution action is, but, alas, I don't have a convenient link.

Whoops! (damn autocorrect), It's "Nollywood" not "Hollywood".

I would second the Computer Village recommendation.

Essential; read Teju Cole's short 'novel', Every day is for the thief, before you go to the world's happiest city

Suya! It's a meat kabob served with ground red pepper. The best are those cooked over an open fire on long thin sticks, leaned at an angle. If you see those leaning sticks and a crowd you are set.

Lagos has an insane music scene but it's hard to figure out what is going on on a given night. Ask local friends/acquaintances if they can help you find people playing Congolese Rumba. There are people still gigging around Lagos who played with Franco. The Stadium Hotel sometimes has incredible juju/highlife shows, although they start very late (post-midnight). In general Lagos is best to explore at night due to traffic issues during the day (although the traffic itself is kind of cool... at first...) - as I'm sure you know check your plans carefully with experienced locals before doing so however.

From a real life, bred and buttered in lagos dude.
1. Afropolitan vibes on the 3rd Friday of the month (16th and 17th of December as they're having a festival) for a sampling of indigenous music. The festival should be really good (
2. Go to the Balogun market during this Christmas season to observe some organized chaos and the merger of tradition and technology(mostly tradition but you get to see some of the impact of telecommunication on business in the developing world). Caveat as we don't really do Mobile money (POS terminals are scanty and cash is king). A drive through Banana Island should cure any consternation you might have developed(or worsened it)
3. A Lagos wedding (the amount of "glamor" and indebtedness people put on for a wedding is ridiculous) with the AndCo culture(the guests are expected to come in the tailored outfits from the same cloth and usually color matched as communicated on the invites).
4. Invite I and a fellow econ lover to watch you give a talk (asking for a meeting or a signed copy of creative destruction and the age of the infovore would be too much)

Whatever you do, make sure you eat some Suya. Your life would change thereafter. Consider going to the Africa Shrine, where the legendary Fela Kuti played. His sons, Femi and Seun Kuti, both renowned as well, also play regularly.

in any case, don't drink the water

The Lagos Computer Village. It's literally 'Silicon Alley,' a maze of computer shops, accessory shops, and repair shops that compete against and sustain each other. They also drive down the price of technology and enable digital access and Lagos' IT sector. The Lagos version of this market is the biggest in Africa, by far, but there are smaller versions all over the continent. What's interesting is that their perfect analog is Shenzhen --- a digital tech sector driven by using and re-using whole digital devices and their components in new and unexpected ways. An under-appreciated story of Chinese influence in Africa.

I just googled images for Lagos, Nigeria. It appears to have a high degree of division of labor, including architects, skilled trades and finance. Risk-averse academics like Tyler Cowen, Ph.D., enthusiastically travel there.

The popular narrative is that the Global South is this PRISON where the evil white people keep all the black and brown people and their thwarted dreams of being neurosurgeons in Paris and Boston locked up. The images of Lagos, Nigeria seem to belie this.

Hopefully, under a Trump presidency, US foreign policy will be more aligned to improvement of local conditions instead of allowing toxic foreign elites a safety valve to bleed off their restive populations into the US.

Read Americanah?

I was there several years ago under more peaceful conditions, in Abuja, a safer city. Regardless my driver was adamant that I not go off on my own looking. He even had a conniption when the South African in my party wanted to do so.

Stay with your driver/host/party at all times. Follow your drivers lead, if you want local foods ask him, he will know what is safe, and better than any one here. If you aren't getting a driver, I would consider contracting one.

You will likely get a fairly impressive sampling of local fair from the hotel buffet, western food is expensive there so target te filler on the buffet with will be locally sourced yams/plantains. I mostly ate either the hotel or at the Chinese restaurants which I trusted more. If you attend a party, there will likely the some very nice exotic food.

Bring some antidiuretics, gastroenteritis hit me the first day despite me being very careful. Although it is the dry season now, take malaria seriously, one of my coworkers son's contracted it.

Its traditional to drink Gin and Tonic to keep it at bay, despite the quinine being a very weak anti-malarial.

Other than that, have fun! It is an unforgettable country, and the people have an amazing/infectious sense of humor.

I was in Lagos a couple of weeks ago, but only very briefly. The one bit of useful information that I can pass on is to bring dollars. You can usually take naira out of ATMs, but there may be a limit. And many places will not be able to process foreign credit cards. It is ostensibly a connection problem, but it likely has more to do with the market for hard currency.

Also, spend some time on the Central Bank of Nigeria's web site reading their official communication on the foreign exchange market and then talk to as many people as you can about how the FX market is operating on the ground. Note the differences.

Cancel the trip and go to McD instead. Been once in Nigeria, decided to never never ever visit the place again.


They have the low down on the Lagos food scene

Take cash

Foreign cards are accepted at all the better establishments but the rates are terrible.

Use a card that is not linked to your main accounts because of skimmers.

Have fun

Please go to the new Afrika Shrine on either a Thursday or Sunday and enjoy the very best of Afrobeat music as Femi Kuti and the Positive Force band mesmerise and captivate your heart and soul for 3 hours,starting from 8pm till 11pm. The venue is safe,the atmosphere is real (unpretentious) and raw as it can get. The concert is free and the performance is always world class.

Pop into Freedom Park (preferably on Friday evening or Saturday) and catch whatever performance is going on there. If none,just take a walk around the park. Worth it.

Go to a restaurant in Fola Osibu Street in Lekki Phase 1 called Delta Pot. Moutter watering dishes mostly from the southern part of Nigeria. The menu can be found here - take your pick and you will not regret any.

Go to Terra Kulture and I dare you to try the goat meat pepper soup for a start,proceed to a plate of peppered Snails and end it with a local beer of your choice. Afterwards,kindly go up the stairs and enjoy the art works in their little museum upstairs and when down pop into the bookshop to pick up a few African literature and a locally made gift for a loved one or a naija themed throw pillow for your sofa back home.

In addition to the noisy hot traffic and our boisterous persons, I hope find time to enjoy a few of not all of the above and whatever else you do have fun and take care. Lagos is a relatively safe city as you will come to realise.

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