Nigeria: the first in Africa - Russian View

In April 2014, Nigeria, the largest oil producer in Africa, overtaking South Africa, has become the leading economy of the continent. As a result of the recalculation of the GDP (made according to the UN recommendations) the domestic product has almost doubled: from 264 billion to 453 billion dollars.

 

Facts

Government: Federal presidential republic

Independence day (from the United Kingdom): 1 october 1960

Hymn: Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s Call Obey

Motto: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress

Сapital: Abuja

Largest cities: Lagos, Ibadan, Kano

Official Language: English

Total area: 923 768 km² (31st in the world)

Population (2014): 177,5 million Density: 189 /km²

Currency: naira (NGN)

Annual GDP: 568,5 billion dollars USA (2014)

Foreign investment in Nigeria: 95,57 billion (December 31, 2015), 46th place in the world

 

Nigeria is a country in the Western Africa situated on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic Ocean.

The states of Oyo, Ife, Benin existed in the south, Kanem, Bern, Kano, Katsina in the north of Nigeria existed in VIII – XIX centuries.

The colonization of the territory by the European empires began in the XV century. Nigeria was called the «Slave Coast» in the XVI – XVIII centuries as the main region of export of slaves from the Western Africa.

From 1885 it became the British protectorate called Oil River, from 1906 it was Southern Nigeria. The occupied territories in the north were the protectorate of the Northern Nigeria. Since 1914 both parts were united in the British colony, forming its present lines.

From the 1st of October (national holiday) 1960 Nigeria became an independent state.

Since 1963 it has been the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The head of state is the president, the legislative power belongs to the bicameral parliament.

 

Main trading partners
of Nigeria

India ranked number one in oil imports from Nigeria in 2014. After the signing of the Abuja Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Nigeria in October 2007, relations between the two countries have intensified. The volume of trade from April 2013 to March 2014 amounted to about 17 billion dollars. For this indicator, Nigeria is now considered to be the largest trading partner of India in Africa. Key directions of trade are oil and gas, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, services in the banking sector, retail trade, film and entertainment industry.

The growth of China’s interest in economic cooperation in Africa has a significant effect on the relationship between China and Nigeria. The first bilateral trade agreement between China and Nigeria was signed on November 3, 1972. After the mutual visits of the heads of the states in 2001 and 2002, the volume of bilateral trade has grown considerably: 10.57 billion dollars — in 2012 (5.3% of the total volume of China’s trade with Africa) and 13.6 billion — in 2013. China imports oil and other energy resources and exports electronic and engineering products, textiles, yarns, fabrics and high-tech products to Nigeria. By the beginning of 2005, about 90 of Chinese companies had already been present in Nigeria.

Cooperation between Nigeria and South Africa is actively developing. In 2012, about 83% of South Africa’s trade with Nigeria accounted for oil imports.

Pension in Nigeria

Not many people in Africa can boast of a sufficient amount of savings for an old age. In 2004, Nigeria has obliged companies with five or more employees to provide them with pensions.

Nigeria has spent ten years to develop its pension system. At the turn of the century public servants were included in the defined benefit system after a certain length of service. But the program was faced with an acute shortage of funds, which exceeded 2 trillion Nigerian naira (12.9 billion dollars). Most of private companies have ignored their obligations. Moreover, there were charges on misuse of pension funds. Since 2005, the assets of the renewed pension system annually increased by more than 25%, reaching about 4.2 trillion Nigerian naira (26 billion dollars). The amount is small, especially in the range of growing Nigerian economy. Moreover, most of the citizens have cash-in-hand job: from 80 million of working age people only 6 million are involved in the pension program. Moreover, a large proportion of the citizens have informal work: from 80 million working age only 6 million are involved in the pension program. The government is trying to solve this problem: a new package of reforms that was approved in July, 2014, increases the obligations of companies to provide their employees with a pension. Moreover, it is increasing mandatory deduction from salary to the pension fund for employee and employer: from 7.1% up to 8% and 10%. According to the law all the money should be invested in Nigeria. The pension system can finance the construction of roads, ports and housing. National Pension Commission is trying to encourage investment in the production of electricity through the state privatization program. But pension funds are seeking alternative path. According to manager of the largest Nigerian pension fund Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers in some way this can be explained by the fact that there are only two infrastructure funds in Nigeria and there is no infrastructure bond.

Russia-Nigeria: contacts in the field of security

At the end of January 2016 the Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and the Defense minister of Nigeria Mansur Mohammed Dan-Ali discussed the ways of working together to combat the threats of terrorism. As reported by the Russian Security Council press service, they discussed the prospects of cooperation between the two countries in the field of regional and international security, questions on Russian-Nigerian military-technical cooperation and the ways of joint counteraction against terrorist threats. Participants of the meeting noted the need to continue the cooperation of the Security Councils of Russia and Nigeria.

History of cinema

The history of the cinema of the black continent is bonded with colonialism. The Europeans brought films there, built luxurious cinemas in order to stay close to their homeland culture. Then crews from Hollywood went on claiming Africa. «The African Queen» by John Huston (1951) with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, shot in Congo and Uganda, has become a recognized masterpiece. But they slowly began to phase out ruinous expeditions.

Authentic African films began to appear in mid-50s. They were really loved in the Soviet Union.

Start of Nollywood was given in 1992 by the film “Life in captivity”. This is a film about a farmer, to whom it is hard to settle down in the city and about a spi­rit of his wife, who fell victim to a religious cult, that haunts him. It stated the main themes of the Nigerian filmmaking: the themes of blind faith, power of money, black magic.

Nigerian movies are in demand where there is a large African diaspora — in the USA and the UK. There are several payable Nollywood TV channels, and film festivals take place.

The African Film Academy was founded in 2005. Annually, like the Academies around the world, it awards the best filmmakers in several categories, including «Best Actor», «Best Actress» and «Best Film».

Religions in Nigeria

Fifty percent of the population are Muslim, 40% — Christian (the majority consists of Protestants), 10% of Nigerians adhere to traditional African beliefs (animalism, fetishism, the worship of ancestors, the forces of nature, etc.).

The penetration of Islam began in the XII century AD during the period of a centralized state of Kanem-Bornu (nowadays it is the territory of Northern Nigeria). Both Sunni and Shiite Islamic traditions are widespread. The vast majority of modern Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani profess Islam.

Christianity began to spread in the early XIX century. Christians inhabit mainly the southern states. Most Ibibio, Igbo, Ijaw and Tiw are adherents of Christianity. The positions of the Catholic Church are the strongest among the population of the Eastern part of the country.

Confessional situation is characterized by the competition between Islam and Christianity. The activities of both Muslim and Christian organizations sometimes go beyond purely religious interests and acquire political overtones. There is a number of Christian churches in Africa that have emerged around separatist movements that were, in particular, against the domination of foreign missionaries in the church hierarchy.

In the system of traditional African beliefs of Yoruba several cults can be distinguished, including those associated with the god of thunder Shango and the god of iron and war Ogun, belonging to the most powerful and revered deities of the Yoruba pantheon. The cult of militant Ogun in Nigeria has been transformed today into a cult of the god patron of soldiers, blacksmiths, hunters, and also the guardian of marriage and healthy offspring. In the city of Ile-Ife (Ondo State) a festival in honor of Ogun is held annually, with not only the adherents of traditional beliefs taking part in the festival, but also Muslims and Christians from the other states of Nigeria, as well as foreign guests.

Nigeria: the first in Africa

Because of its huge population — about 180 million people — it is called the giant of Africa. In the early 70’s experts talked that Nigeria is the first African country to reach economic stability and prosperity. They were not mistaken: the country became the first.

Get ready: this is Nigeria, the first in terms of GDP volume economy of the African continent, its people, its achievements, its problems and everything that the European view should not miss.

Strong hand

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has only two enemies: terrorism and corruption. And one faithful ally — oil.

On motorcycles and motor boats during few days they furrowed the entire Nigeria. The mission of the experts in statistics, according to The Wall Street Journal, was unusual: this time the object of their attention was not ordinary in the local landscape oil derricks, but internet cafés, IT-shops, services and film industry. It was the key to success: numbers and reports that had not been formally taken into account.

The excitement was triggered “from the top”. The fact is that the UN organization recommends to revise the calculation base of the GDP of each country every five years. Nigeria had not done it since 1990. Now the fast growing telecommunications industry and the film industry were included into statistics. The famous Nollywood has bypassed the USA conceding only to the Indian Bollywood by the number of film premieres. The GDP has almost doubled automatically from 264 billion to 453 billion. In April 2014, Nigeria, the largest oil producer in Africa, outran South Africa in terms of GDP volume, became the leading economy in the continent, as it was officially announced by the Finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

What has changed apart from the numbers? “Recalculating of the GDP is cosmetic. But we hope that it will increase the investment attractiveness of Nigeria”, — said the analyst of the group “Nigeria Economic Summit” Chuba Ezekwesili. And he was absolutely right.

But there was another reality. According to the World Bank, about 80 percent of the population continued to exist on $2 per day. The north of Nigeria was terrorized by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

The country had been preparing for the new presidential elections scheduled on the 14th of February 2015, but it had to be postponed for six weeks for security reasons. The opposition harshly criticized the current president Goodluck Jonathan for failure to deal with the threat. On this wave Nigeria made a bid on a “strong hand”. Jonathan’s opponent — Muhammadu Buhari — won receiving 2.5 million votes more than his competitor. His inauguration took place on the 29th of May 2015.

 

Military man

By ethnicity Buhari is Fulani. He is a sunni. He was born on December 17, 1942 in a family where there were 23 children, in the town of Daura (Katsina Province, since 1987 — the State of Katsina) in the north of Nigeria. He was the youngest. His father died, when Muhammadu was not even four years old.

Leafing through the pages of his biography, one can not overlook: the guy was not only gifted — he was clearly favored by the destiny. After graduating from high school in 1961, this provincial boy easily entered the Nigerian Military School in Kaduna. And in October of the same year he was sent to the Cadet School in Aldershot (the United Kingdom). He graduated in 1963 and then passed training courses in Her Majesty’s Military Transport School in Borden in 1965.

Looking ahead, we should note that Buhari completed his military education in 1973, at the Officers’ College courses in Wellington (India). And while he was learning the theory of the military career through practice, he skyrocketed upwards.

In 1963 as he received the rank of sublieutenant, Buhari was appointed to be a commander of a platoon of infantry battalion in Abeokuta. In 1964 he transferred to the post of the officer of the transport service of the Lagos Garrison. In 1967, he was promoted to the rank of senior staff officer of the Brigade Infantry Division. He commanded the combat units of the federal armed forces during the civil war (1967 – 1970), which was provoked by the separatists of the self-proclaimed “Republic of Biafra”. At that moment USSR provided the Government of Nigeria with significant political and military assistance.

In January 1974 colonel Buhari became the chief of the Service of transport and supply of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. But in 1975 there was a military coup (a phenomenon that is historically common by the Nigerian standards), and the head of a new military government brigadier Murtala Mohammed appointed Buhari at the place of the military governor of the North-Eastern State of Nigeria, which included a vast territory of modern states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Taraba.

The first political management experience did not last long: as a result of the reform of the administrative and political system of the federation held in February 1976, the state was abolished.

And Buhari received a new assignment — this time from another prime minister, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Nigeria brigadier Olusegun Obassanjo. He was inducted into the Supreme Military Council and the Federal Executive Council (the military cabinet of the government) at the position of the Commissioner for Oil Resources and Energy.

 

From oil to oil

In 1978 Buhari became the head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation created the same year. National property was taken under a tight control that the military politician and economist tried not to lose from his hands in the future.

In July – August 1979 general elections were held in Nigeria. The leader of the National Party Shehu Shagari became the president. The civil president dissolved the Supreme Military and Federal Councils. That, however, did not affect the Buhari’s career. Moreover, he was promoted to Major General.

Civil authorities did not accustom in the country: the society was apparently too used to strong hands. The growth of corruption — against the background of worsening of the inter-regional and inter-confessional conflicts — led Shagari to the drop in popularity, including among the military men and elites.

On the 31st of December 1983 a military coup occurred in Nigeria again. The Supreme Military Council has been restored, and its chairman and the state leader, became Muhammadu Buhari.

Twenty months of Buhari’s reign passed under the slogan of the optimization of the budget expenses, the struggle for discipline and the war against corruption that has engulfed by this time almost all spheres of the government. For all these three matters Buhari had to take extreme measures. He broke up his relations with the International Monetary Fund because it demanded the devaluation of the naira for 60%. During the short period of his reign hundreds of influential politicians, civil officials and business leaders were accused of corruption, were arrested and convicted. The British media wrote that he, being an advocate of military discipline, forced officials, who were late for work, jump as frogs. Students who used cribs at the exams were threatened with prison. For the use and the trade of drugs the penalty was execution. Press was meek.

Buhari was criticized both inside the country and abroad, accused in authoritarism and human rights violations, pressure on the media, and harassment of the opposition. But none denied Buhari in his reputation of a hard but honest and principled officer and a patriot.

But reputation is the reputation, and power abhors sentimentality. Military people who were close to Buhari, gradually thronged from the highest state positions their colleagues, among whom there were many members of the Christian south of the country. Conflicts began among the military men. What was the result? Conspiracy. On the 27th of August 1985 a new military coup occurred, organized by Major-General Ibrahim Babangida, a native from the north. Buhari was arrested and remanded in prison until the end of 1988.

But, as we have already mentioned, Muhammadu Buhari is not only a high professional, he is clearly favored by fate.

In 1994, by the suggestion of a new military leader of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha, he headed the Oil Trust Fund and directed it until 2000.

 

Four times candidate…

In 1999 Buhari returned to the active political life and four times ran for the post of the president of the country.

In 2003, 2007 and 2011 according to the results of the elections he took second place after the candidates of the ruling People’s Democratic Party. In 2003 he was nominated by the All Nigeria People’s Party and lost to Olusegun Obasanjo, gaining 32.2% of the votes. In 2007, Buhari was renominated by the same party, but received only 18.7% of the votes and lost to Umaru Yar’Adua. In such situation a part of the All Nigeria People’s Party agreed to enter into a coalition government, and this provoked a split in its ranks and some members, including Buhari, left the party. In 2009, he was one of the founders of the new party called the Congress for Progressive Change (CAT), which later supported him as a candidate for the presidential elections 2011. And he again took the second place after Goodluck Jonathan. This was preceded by the dramatic events. According to Reuters, Buhari refused to accept the preliminary election results and demanded a recount. And shortly after the information of the victory of Jonathan appeared, disturbances broke out in the northern part of Nigeria.

On the eve of the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015 three main opposition parties — the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) formed a new party — the All Progressives Congress. In December 2014 Muhammadu Buhari was again nominated by the opposition. On the eve of the election he was supported by the popular incountry’s former president and former political opponent Obasanjo.

 

… And the president

On the 28th of March 2015 Muhammadu Buhari defeated the current president Goodluck Jonathan, receiving almost 54% of the votes.

Buhari learned the lessons of his previous political duels. In contrast to the 2011 campaign when he spoke in favor of the approval of Nigeria Sharia law, before elections in 2015 Buhari, on the contrary, assured the electorate that he had no intention to Islamize Nigeria and respected the secular nature of the state. He also blamed president Jonathan in passivity and inability to counter the threat of radical Islamism and terrorism emanating from the terrorist organization Boko Haram. The president already had the experience of “dialogue” with the militants. On the 23rd of July 2014, during his visit to the city of Kaduna, he became the target of a terrorist attack. As a result of the explosion in the market place about 50 people were killed. Buhari miraculously was not injured.

The fight against terrorism was a priority of his presidential program.

Nigerian president, a retired Major-General Muhammadu Buhari is a decent family man: since 1989 he has been married for the second time with Aisha Buhari. His first wife, Sainftu Haji Buhari, with whom he was married from 1971 to 1998, died on the 14th of January 2006. From each marriage Buhari has five children.

However, the whole Nigeria is now his fa­mily.

 

Agenda

In the politically correct Western world the re­putation of any strong ruler a priori can not be painted in pastel colors. Muhammadu Buhari gets it from the Western media as well. But there are nuances.

Once, for example, Buhari has quarreled with the IMF, and for that he was severely criticized by this influential organization. But that was in the 80s. Now Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy.

In January 2016, Christine Lagarde, the head of the Fund personally arrived with a visit to Abuja. She met with president Buhari, mini­ster of Finance Kemi Adeosun, director of the Central Bank of Nigeria Godwin Emefiele, as well as with the representatives of the National Assembly, civil society and business. The IMF now desires to strengthen the partnership between the Foundation and the largest economy of the continent. According to the opinion of the Fund, the effects of the fall of the world oil prices could affect the growth rate of the Nigerian economy: in 2015, GDP growth for 4% had been predicted but it reached 2.25% less than expected. It is predicted that it will get to 3.25% this year, which is below the average growth in amount of 6.8% observed in 2004 – 2014.

Buhari who has rich experience in management of the oil industry has his own answer for this.

“Mr. president is going to divide the Nati­onal Petroleum Company of Nigeria (NNPC) into two companies. One of them will be an independent regulatory body and the second one will be the object of investment,” — quotes Reuters the representative of the president Femi Adesina. The reason for the separation of NNPC became a favorite hobbyhorse of the president the anti-corruption activities. Buhari has always expressed the intention to take under careful control the oil industry. The NNPC, as we recall, brings the Government of Nigeria about 70% of income.

In 2015 control after the capital movements was introduced in Nigeria — IMF urged Buhari to seek alternative methods. The first cont­rol measures were taken even before Buhari became a president, but he did not only continue this policy, he also supported it: during his reign it acquired a distinct sense of anti-corruption.

Buhari does not intend to seek help from the IMF at least directly. He intends to make reforms himself. But it will take time and some financial pause to make them work. According to media reports, Nigeria appealed to the World Bank and the African Development Bank for loans in amount of 3.5 billion dollars (2.5 billion and 1 billion dollars, respectively), which will help the country to cope with the budget deficit, formed in connection with the fall in oil prices. The loan taken from the World Bank, as sources from the financial organizations claim, will become a part of the “development policy”, which the bank will use to help countries that are facing short-term financial problems. Such loans usually can be issued regardless of the IMF.

With the help of the loan the government of president Buhari expects to cover part of the public deficit which is reaching 15 billion. However, according to the interview with the minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun to the Financial Times newspaper, after three year pause the Government plans to return to the stock market.

Meanwhile, multinational companies are increasing their presence in Nigeria the number of inhabitants of which will surpass that of the United States in 2050, as the UN organizations forecasts. The country is expanding the business network of the Western fast food (KFC), manufacturers of mass demand production (Procter & Gamble) and cars (Nissan). There are other notable achievements: Nigerians drink more Guinnes than people in Ireland, and the consumption of champagne is second only after France, writes the WSJ.

According to DHL CEO in tropical Africa, Charles Brewer, investors should pay attention to infrastructure projects: the country is full of untapped opportunities, its potential is huge.

Senior research officer of the Center for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nikolai Shcherbakov, on the other hand, advises the Russian investors to focus on educational projects. “We need to understand that by investing in education in Nigeria, we can feel ourselves not competitors but partners — he said. — The more we are now focused on the export of technology and educational initiatives, the sooner the huge and rich African region will respond to us a hundredfold.”

Russian investors, meanwhile, are bidding on energy, which fully meets the needs of the Nigerian side.

 

Lukoil, Gazprom and other acting figures

McKinsey Global Institute predicts that in the next 15 years, the economy of Nigeria has the ability to grow three times stronger. In 2030, the GDP of the state is able to reach 1.6 trillion dollars that will allow the country to enter the twenty largest economies in the world. However, as it is believed in the Buhari’s govern­ment, that it can be achieved with the full use of Nigeria’s potential, maximization of the growth in the key sectors of the economy and attraction of the foreign investment.

Shortly after Muhammadu Buhari inauguration negotiations with the Russian business have revived. For example, with “Ros­atom” — about building of four nuclear power plants worth $ 20 billion. According to Bloom­berg, Chairman of the National Atomic Energy Commission of Nigeria Franklin Erepamo Osaysaya, the Russian company will have a controlling stake in the project. According to the representative of Rosatom, a memorandum has not been signed yet, but contacts between officials have actually recommenced. The framework agreement on the construction of nuclear power plants in Nigeria, as we recall, was concluded as early as 2012.

Nigeria LNG is willing to cooperate with Gazprom and does not rule out the possibility of a long-term contract for the sale of LNG. This was announced in December 2015 in the Nigeria LNG company. Russian company, showing interest in the projects in South Africa and Cameroon, is literally getting beat off from the competitors in Nigeria. “If Gazprom offers cooperation, Nigeria LNG would not refuse,” — the company says. Executive Director of Gazprom Marketing & Trading F. Barney did not rule out the possibility of cooperation with the Nigerian plant. There is a lot of work: the proven gas reserves in Nigeria make up 5.1 trillion m3, and potential make up 17 trillion m3.

Finally, oil is a national treasure, which is under the tireless control of the president Buhari.

Russian “LUKOIL” plans to expand its activities in Nigeria. This was announced at the International Economic Forum in Davos in January 2016 by the head of the company Vagit Alekperov: “We had a meeting with the minister of Oil of Nigeria. Our delegation will meet with the president of Nigeria, Buhari, with the minister of Oil to discuss the further expansion of our activities”. We will note that LUKOIL is working in Nigeria for more than a year.

 

Afterword

... This story does not involve a detailed analysis of investment opportunities in Nigeria. It has other goals and — most importantly — another hero: president Muhammadu Buhari. Where will he lead his country rich in mineral resources? One can say for sure: the old soldier would not give up his principles.

This is — almost literally — a recent report by the AP agency: president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, accused the adviser of the former president in stealing of two billion dollars, intended for the purchase of weapons and combat against radical group Boko Haram. Nigerian authorities accuse Sambo Dasuki (the name of the accused, who was managing questions of national security in Goodluck Jonathan’s administration) in the conclusion of the supposed contracts for the purchase of 12 helicopters, four military aircrafts and ammunition that have not been obtained ...

The president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari had and still has two enemies: terrorism and corruption. And one faithful ally — oil. 

Ally — oil

The name «Nigeria» is derived from the local dialect: Ni Gir, Gir river, which means the country on the river. Because of the huge population — about 180 million people — it is called the giant of Africa: 16% of all Africans — are indigenous Nigerians. In the early 60’s this almost newly independent country was compared with Cinderella who has not met her prince. In the early 70’s already, many experts talked about the fact that Nigeria is the first African country to reach the economic stability and prosperity. They were not mistaken: the country became the first on the continent.


Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP

How to maintain production

The history of Nigerian oil as the basis of prosperity was developing slowly. Oil was found in Nigeria in 1901. Specifically, there was no need to look for it: valuable hydrocarbon went to the catcher himself, spontaneously forming the oil puddles, spots and streams. Its presence was just officially recorded as a fact. But the industrial mining began only in 1956. In 1960 Nigeria gained independence from Britain. In May 1971, the federal government created the Nigerian National Oil Corporation: the move was accelerated by the desire to join OPEC, which required Member States to acquire at least 51% stake in its oil sector. Since 2000, oil and gas exports of Nigeria was already more than 98% of revenues from the national foreign trade, provided about 83% of budget income and 95% of foreign exchange inflows to the treasury.

In early 2016, Nigeria has become one of the most influential negotiators among the exporting countries. At the stake — not more not less — there are world oil prices.

“I believe that the common position is drawn up. We looked through various options. Including the option to “do nothing” and the «reduction of production volumes” option. The version that we have proposed — and did suggest previously — is to maintain production at current levels ... If there will not be additional offer on the market, then the imbalance and overproduction will decrease by at least 1.3 million barrels per day,” — said in an interview to Vesti Saturday in February 2016 Russian energy minister Alexander Novak. — It will be a positive signal understandable for the market”. The day before, on the sidelines of the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum, the deputy head of the Ministry of Energy Alexei Teksler said that an agreement on the freezing of oil will remove from the market the excess supply in amount of 1.8 million barrels per day.

The agreement to maintain production at the level of January 2016, in addition to Russia, is supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Venezuela, Ecuador, Algeria, Oman, Kuwait and Nigeria. The price of 50 dollars per barrel in the long term would satisfy both consumers and exporters, believes Alexander Novak.

The rapid collapse of the world oil prices, as we recall, began in 2014. In summer of 2014 the barrel of Brent cost 115 dollars, and in January 2016 the price hovered at the level just above 30. The proposal clearly exceeds the demand— it turned out that exporting countries agreed with that. In particular, Nigeria.

Due to the decrease in the oil prices in 2015 the GDP growth in the country decreased for 3 percent. According to this trend, the new president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari has formed a cabinet mainly of technocrats and announced a program of reforms, including measures to diversify the economy, improve the situation with tax collection and transparency in the conduct of public policy at all levels. Government was instructed to develop public-private partnerships in infrastructure projects and agriculture. Positive medium-term outlook for the national economy was adopted, the alignment of oil prices was taken into account.

 

The History of oil

Most of Nigeria’s oil is concentrated around the Niger Delta, covering six states (Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom and partially Cross River, Edo), with a total population of bet­­ween 7 and 10 million people. Local oil is classified primarily as light and sweet, since virtually contains no sulfur. Nigeria is the largest producer of sweet oil in OPEC.

In 2010, the country has provided about 10% of US oil imports and was the fifth largest supplier of the US fuel. But the advancing shale revolution was behind the exporters: in July 2014 Nigeria has almost left the US market. Now its largest consumer is India. Among the importers are also Brazil, Spain, France, China and the Netherlands.

According to the Ministry of Oil Resources of Nigeria, the country has a total of 159 oil fields. We recall that since 1971 Nigeria is a member of OPEC. In 2007, she took 8th place among the world’s oil exports. In 2013 oil production was 111.3 million tons (2.322 million barrels per day). Proven reserves, according to various estimates, are from about 25 billion to 36 billion barrels.

65% of oil are the light types. The main export brands are Bonny Light and Forcados.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) initially did not produce oil and did not export it. It has provided contracts to exporting firms. Sophisticated system of discounts and commission charges, lack of reliable information about exporters generated abuses. In addition, statements have been hampered by the presence of double: market and official rate of hard currencies, which differed by almost four times. Money — and as it turned out, not only oil money, disappeared by billions.

Civilian government, which came to power in May 1999, reorganized the oil sector. Oil production was traditionally managed mainly by joint ventures of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and multinational corporations Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Eni, Total and Addax. The new trend was the policy of “non-confiscatory nigerization”. In 1999, licenses were withdrawn from 16 Nigerian oil companies due to fears that they and, as a result, the whole country will get under foreign control. New foreign oil companies were denied the possibility of creating a joint venture with NNPC. They can work on the terms of production sharing contact or as a technical partner of the Nigerian oil companies. Nigerian oil exporters could become the end users of the raw materials with an annual turnover of at least $100 million, or well-known international traders and oil companies. At the same time they had to declare their readiness to invest in the Nigerian economy: the necessary condition was a bail in amount of $1 million.

Since 2011, oil production in Nigeria dicreased by 7%. Selection of oil through intentional damage of pipelines became commonplace. According to authorities, it cost the treasury 5 billion dollars annually. From January 2012 to June 2013 the income of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation decreased by 47% and revenues in a sovereign fund (Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Fund, NSWF) by 73%.

NSFW Nigeria is the third largest in sub-Saharan Africa after Botswana and Angola. But compared to similar funds of other producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Norway and Abu Dhabi, the Nigerian fund looks modest. And it also appeared one of the last: in early 2013, the Fund owned assets of 10 billion dollars. Some local authorities stood out against the replenishment of this “safety cushion”.

The new government of Nigeria is convinced that the oil and gas industry needs to change. However, a clear plan of action in the course of the discussion of the state budget of year 2015 has not been submitted. Minister of Economy and Finance of Nigeria Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala assured that the country has sufficient reserves to overcome all challenges, at least in the short term, and actually proposed to solve problems as they arise.

Now the new president Muhammadu Buhari intends to re-reform the sector, NNPC di­vided into two components: an independent regulatory body and an investment company. The reason for the separation of the NNPC, as the Nigerian press wrote, was the fight for transparency in key areas of the national economy, which has not been achieved by previous reforms.

Contracts for the repair and maintenance of refineries and pipeline systems are called the most attractive for foreign investors in Nigeria.

... “If they need help, we are ready to help without questions,”— announced the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in February, 2016 . “They”— because she spoke about two oil-rich countries: Azerbaijan and Nigeria. Both countries, Lagarde said, are heavily dependent on oil exports and thus suffered a shock due to a sharp fall in commodity pri­ces. According to her opinion, Azerbaijan as a whole is making the right efforts to resolve the situation, and Nigeria has not yet implemented the necessary reforms.

Nigeria, more precisely, its new president Buhari, is just beginning the reformation and already made it clear to the IMF that he would try to cope without their help.

President Buhari relies not only on oil, but also on the diversification of the economy. And Nigerian business has such an experience. Aliko Dangote’s, Africa’s richest man’s success is a proof of that.

Inaccessible

Aliko Dangote is the Africa’s richest man. And not only that. At the end of 2015 The New African magazine put him to the seventh place in the Top-100 list of the most influential Africans. If we consider that the president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari is the first in this list, their tandem turns out to be impressive.

Patriot

Multi-billionaire Aliko Dangote, whose business empire has long crossed the borders of his country, remembers: first of all he is a Nigerian. Even if it comes to the details.

For example, twice — in 2010 and in 2015 Dangote considered purchasing a solid share of “Arsenal”, the British football club. In his opinion, such an acquisition could have a positive impact on the image of Nigeria, would allow his country “to sound” differently in the whole world. But the patriot was harshly criticized for the lack of patriotism, saying that in Nigeria there are also clubs that require solid investments, and their fans, whose temperament is not inferior to that of the British. In public Dangote made jokes in that spirit, that even if he buys all Nigerian clubs at once, Nigeria will unlikely “sound” differently. But he stopped the negotiations.

Someone said that the partners did not agree on the price. But someone remembered that the businessman who had reached the pinnacle of success quoted the words of his grandfather: “It does not matter what you do, but you must always respect the current government. Be humble”.

Dangote, the true Nigerian, remained such for all his life.

In April 2015 Muhammadu Buhari, opponent of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), with which Dangote got along well, won the presidential election in Nigeria. However, his economic interests are still protected. Cement and sugar — the main trump cards in the deck of Dangote’s business, remain in the list of goods, import of which is prohibited by the Nigerian Customs Service.

“Life of Aliko Dangote is a delicate balancing act in a country where the policy is more than everything,” — said the Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi.

Do you want an example? Dangote expands the geography of his business. By 2017, he intends to finish building a cement factory in Nepal. This country has gone through two de­vastating earthquakes, and Dangote company intends to contribute to the rehabilitation of its infrastructure. He has already — on the basis of charity — given the Nepalese government million dollars. According to the words of the businessman himself, in recent years he has given to charity about 100 million dollars, and not only in Nigeria but also in the other countries of the western part of the continent, which suffered from the outbreak of Ebola. Meanwhile, the evil tongues often associate charity with business and political interests.

In the spirit of the lessons of his grandfather, Dangote managed to not only maintain but also increase his business during the reign of any authority. In 1981, he met with General Obasanjo. When he ran for president of Nigeria from the PDP in 1991 and 2003 respectively, businessman sponsored his election campaign. Obasanjo won both presidential races, and Dangote entrenched in the circle of his closest associates.

In diplomatic cables from 2005 published on a portal of WikiLeaks, Bryan Brown, former US Consul General in Lagos, said: “It is believed that Dangote is included in the inner circle of president Obasanjo business consultants. It is no coincidence that in the list of prohibited import products there are many of those that are included in the Dangote interest zone”. This practice as it was mentioned above has been preserved by the current president Buhari.

Dangote also has other “privileges”. Despite the slow pace of the traditional authorities in making decisions on the privatization of state-owned enterprises, he manages to win tenders quickly. For example, in 2010, state-owned property Benue Cement Company became pro­perty of Dangote Group, and a year later it happened to Savannah Sugar Company.

You can not, however, deny feedback: the authorities come and go, but all of them under­stand the value of Dangote’s business to Nigeria.

Aliko Dangote is the largest employer in the country and in the whole West Africa, and the second largest in the African continent. In addition, unlike many of his colleagues in the business, he invests what he earns in the economy of his country. Here is the answer to the criticism for the lack of patriotism.

Well, colleagues and friends say that Dangote is a workaholic: he takes the important business decisions only himself. Most of the time he spends in Nigeria. For some time he was a frequent visitor of London: one says that he was preparing to IPO. He does not leave other African countries without his attention; he is looking there for the new opportunities.

One also says that he knows how to turn cement into gold. But that’s all tales. Because he can convert almost everything into gold. His business empire — Dangote Group, founded in 1977, was conceived as a trading company. But slowly it transformed into the largest Nigeria’s industrial group, which includes Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement, Dangote Flour, and so on: spaghetti, noodles, pasta, salt, water, soft drinks, beer, juices, tomato paste, as well as logistics, housing, welfare fund. The company operates in Benin, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia.

How did this entrepreneur become a billionaire? Oil and diamonds, according to the list, have no relationship to this take-off.

 

True Nigerian

“When you are raised by the parents with entrepreneurial flair, you inherit their aspirations, — says Aliko Dangote. — This makes believe that everything is possible”.

Aliko Dangote was born in 1957 in a very wealthy family. His parents traded caffeinated cola tree fruits and peanuts. This business once made Sanusi Dantata, Dangoteʼs grandfather in the maternal line, rich. It was him who became the chief instructor of the future business genius.

One of the richest residents of the major Nigerian city of Kano raised his grandson properly. From the tender age he tried to awaken in him interest to commerce, and his efforts were not in vain: Dangote had entrepreneurial spirit since childhood. He recalls: “Even in primary school, I could buy a box of candies and sell them one by one. Business interested me already”.

The family was Muslim. It is not surprising that the relatives have advised him the Faculty of Economics at Cairo University, Al-Azhar as the alma mater, and they have left Alico the graduate unattended. It did not mean staging a majeure boy on a well off contentment. After a brief farewell speech, his uncle gave his nephew a loan to open a business. Not much — 2.5 thousand dollars in local currency. At the age of 21, Aliko Dangote went into business. And he has not come back by this day.

Yes, like many modern rich Africans, Dangote initially had financial and social benefits through his influential relatives. Let’s just look at his “neighbors” in the Forbes list of 2008. The eighth place in the rating of the rich Africans is taken by Isabel dos Santos who is the eldest daughter of Angola’s president, and her investments in Portuguese companies are believed to be linked to her father’s work. Number two — Nicky Oppenheimer — has inherited his main source of wealth in the form of shares in the diamond business. And the youngest participant of the rating, forty year old Mohammed Devji, earns as a manager of a group of his father’s companies. But by spin speed, creative ideas and the ability to take risks there is no equal to Dangote among them.

The young businessman imported sugar from Brazil, rice from Thailand, selling them with a high margin. Over time, sales began to give a daily income of 10 thousand dollars. And after 15 years, he has turned his business into one of the largest retail conglomerates in Nigeria. During the years of military dictatorship, when the army rigidly controlled economy, he managed to build a business empire. And Dangote was not going to stop.

In 1996, he decided to take a new niche — production. Adhering to the backward integration strategy when the business grows through the acquisition of supplier companies, Dangote has provided a stable and cost-effective flow of resources for his enterprises. And at the same time he was creating new job positions and supported the policy of import substitution, leaving the Nigerian money within the country.

Aliko Dangote does not lack entrepreneurial imagination. Let’s take, for example, the idea to appeal to the Nigerian authorities with a proposal to lease an abandoned part of land in Apapa port to build a grain elevator. Flour could be shipped straight to ships without further transportation. In 2012, the project started to work to the mutual benefit of the businessman and the port.

Another business plan was announced. In the late 90’s Dangote urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to give to the management of the auto park of the bank to his transport company, and also to the mutual benefit.

Or such a maneuver: in 2000, the Nigerian government decided to privatize the Benue Cement Company. Our hero has applied for it and received the plant under his management. After a couple of years, it was quite a different company. Dangote has replaced management, invested in production facilities and held a large-scale reconstruction. Productivity has increased more than threefold. However, if we talk about the purity of the experiment, more precisely, about how the entrepreneur was able to negotiate with the authorities, various rumors were afloat. But can the winner be judged?

In 2003, Dangote has built the largest cement plant in Africa — Obajana Cement. The entrepreneur became a supplier not only in the region from South Africa to Zambia and Sene­gal, new capacity he constructed covered the markets of Tanzania, Congo, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. What else can entrepreneur dream of? Surpassing the French company Lafarge and becoming the largest cement producer in the world. And not only this.

The company widely exports cotton, cashew, cocoa, sesame and ginger. But this already diversified list would be incomplete without mentioning that Dangote has invested in real estate, banking, transport, textile industry and, of course, in oil and gas. More than 11 thousand people have found work in his business empire — it is the largest industrial conglomerate in the whole West Africa.

 

New African

“New Africans” can not imagine life without the latest high technologies. Dangote is no exception. He became interested in telecommunications. And so much that he decided to lay nationwide fiber-optic cables with a total length of 14 thousand kilometers.

In 2013, adding to his holdings 9.2 billions more, this businessman, according to Bloomberg, took 30th place in the ranking of the richest people in the world.

Dangote’s wealth has grown by leaps and bounds. He has long been considered one of the richest men in Africa. But, as is the case with other “new Africans”, an assessment of his business has greatly fluctuated. For example, in 2010 the capital of his holding was eva­luated by some experts at 3.3 billion dollars. A year later they did not believe their eyes: assessment rose almost to five hundred percent! Casket just came off: Dangote has mastered a new kind of business — went to the stock exchange. And put his assets not in “retail” but consolidated them under a single brand Dangote Cement Holding. Demand for stocks appeared fantastic: paper covered nearly a quarter of the Nigerian stock market. Businessman immediately declared that he intends to storm London stock market. Well, there are not much African stocks on the European markets. And his holding company is a high-quality structure and, most importantly, is diversified. By 2015, according to estimates of the businessman, its total cost has reached almost 60 billion dollars. Whatever it is, but food and cement are necessary for everybody, whatever the weather — and however high the oil prices are.

Dangote has really managed to do something that many other businessmen of the region could not achieve. Over 100 years of exi­stence of the authoritative magazine Forbes ranking of the rich men a representative of the African countries from the south to the Sahara never got there. In 2008, this top was taken by Dangote. In recent years, next to his name in the rankings numbers from 16.7 billion to 26 billion US dollars were featured. Decrease of oil prices, of course, has not passed by this “diversified” entrepreneur. But the fact remains: unreachable Nigerian holds first place in the list of richest Africans for six years in a row and he is not going to concede. His ambitions are quite reasonable: Aliko Dangote has earned his fortune not by a primitive retail, production of oil or diamonds, but by the production of goods and services.

As his supporters say, Dangote has proved that Nigeria can not only trade, but also produce independently. As his critics say, Dangote is misusing his political connections. The truth is probably in the middle: Aliko Dangote is the founding father of modern African capitalism, who gave the continent’s inhabitants their own, African, dream.

African Dream

What is the African Dream? Aliko Dangote’s experience is already known to us. And he is not alone in his desire to reverse the trend of oil — that is not only to use the natural wealth of the continent, but also to create native African product.

Rosselkhoznadzor met representatives of the Nigerian agricultural holding Jubaili Agrotec in February, 2016. African entrepreneurs are interested in deliveries of feed additives, veterinary drugs and seeds to Russia, as well as in investing in the Russian production of similar products. According to the Russian agency, Nigerian colleagues have been explained the rules of registration and import of feed additives to Russia, as well as the procedure for export and phytosanitary control of seed production. In turn, the representatives of Jubaili Agrotec noted that the negotiations were constructive and fruitful.

65 percent of Nigeria’s population is engaged in agriculture. The industry in its pure, original form accrues with new opportunities and innovative technologies. However, this concerns not only the agricultural industry.

 

Nigerian fields

Peanut, soybean, yam, batata (sweet potatoes), corn, cocoa beans, natural rubber, cotton, oil palm, sugar cane are the main agricultural crops in Nigeria. 31.29% of the lands are cultivated in the country. Here’s the paradox: in the mid-1980s the decline of Nigerian production has begun, the agricultural sector now does not provide the population with food in full. What is the reason? Weather anomalies? Yes, but which country does not have them? As the economy grows the rural population migrated to the cities and as their personal income growth they reoriented on imported foodstuffs. People wanted western exotics. However, the current Nigerian economy can afford it.

Nevertheless, Nigeria is one of the main manufacturers of peanuts, cocoa beans and soybeans on the African continent. Steady demand for Nigerian cocoa (country is the world’s 4th cocoa producer) due to its high taste qualities. Pineapples, bananas, beans, potatoes, cassava, corn, mango, papaya, millet, rice, sorghum, tobacco, tomatoes and citrus fruits are also cultivated.

Animal breeding — cows, sheep, pigs, develops mainly in the northern states, as well as poultry farming, because of the spread of the tsetse fly in most parts of the country.

Forestry includes timber harvesting (including valuable tropical varieties) and lumber production.

The Gulf of Guinea, rivers and Lake Chad are generous with fish and seafood. The average fishing-out is about 250 thousand tons.

There is only one problem in the agricultural area: power interruptions. Again, progress is to blame: the demand for electricity has grown significantly, and interruptions happen frequently. For this reason, almost every company and many houses have their own generators. About 40% of the population are provided with electricity in full, the rest use wood and oil products as a fuel. TPPs (in Egbine, Lagos State, in Ogbia, Kogi State and in Sapele, Delta State, etc.) give electricity, running on oil, natural gas or coal, and HPPs (the largest one — Kainji Dam on the Niger river). Researches in the field of using nuclear energy in the country are conducted in the Center for energy research (Zaria city). So there are good perspectives for Rosatom (Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation).

 

What else besides oil

Major oil branches of industry in Nigeria are coal and columbite mining, tinning; manufacture of palm oil, cotton, rubber, timber, textiles, cement, construction materials, shoes, chemical products and fertilizers; fells and leather processing; food industry.

Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa takes leading positions by the level of transport provision and road network density. Air (the country has about 15 airlines) and maritime traffic connects it with many countries of the world. Avialogistics is intensively developing: 70 airports and air strips. International airports are located in the cities of Lagos (named after Murtala Muhammed), Abuja, Calabar, Kano and Port Harcourt.

The main mode of transport is automobile, providing about 95% of freight and passenger traffics. The first highways have been laid there at the beginning of the XX century, mainly in the places of traditional trade routes.

By the way, getting a driver’s license it is purely formal issue. As a result, about 30 thousand traffic accidents happen on the roads each year. It was introduced separate transportation of passengers of male and female sexes on public transport in 2005, in the city of Kano (north of the country), where Muslim population prevails (but some mixed-type vehicles retained for Christians).

The first railway — Lagos-Abeokuta — was constructed during 1895 – 1898. China, whose involvement in the economy of this country will be mentioned later, rendered financial assistance for the reconstruction of the Nigerian railways at the end of the 1990’s.

System of sea transport is well developed in the country and includes a set of ports of Niger delta (Warri, Koko and Sapele) ports in Calabar, Lagos (Tin Ken and Apapa), Onne and Port Harcourt. There are specialized maritime hubs for the shipment of oil in Bonny and Burutu. The merchant fleet consists of 303 ships, including 29 oil tankers and 4 tankers for the transportation of chemical products (as of 2002).

The length of river waterways is (navigation on the rivers Benue, Cross, Niger, as well as Lake Chad and along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea was established 8.6 thousand km (as of 2004). Freight transportations mainly are carried out by waterways.

How does all of this really help to the economy and citizens of the country? In the period from 1961 to 2011 the average annual inflation rate in Nigeria was 16% and the growth of GDP per capita was only 1.6%. In recent years, inflation rate is single digit — 7.8% (as of 2014).

 

Investment climate

According to the Russian Embassy in Nigeria, the authorities of the country have done a lot of work in recent years on the creation of a favorable investment climate. Privatization and concession delivery to private business of facilities of energy and road infrastructure are actively practiced, as well as liberalization of tax treatment for investors, the use of public-private partnership, providing status of export processing zone with concessional tax treatment and restrictions on the activities of local trade unions for the companies that produce products for export.

The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission created “unified service desk”. By means of this, the investor is in contact with state institutions and agencies and decides on business registration, licenses obtaining, taxes and customs payments, conversion and export of currency.

Almost all areas of the economy that are in priority for Nigeria today are connected with the development of economic infrastructure: energy industry, road transportation system, community facilities, water-treating facilities development, residential construction. These areas are already subject to the active application of investment and human resources of the EU countries, China, Brazil, Turkey and India.

Agriculture reforms have also begun: custom tariffs on imported equipment for processing of agricultural products were canceled; duties on all imported crops that can be produced domestically were increased. The government plans to create special zones for processing of main agricultural crops with concessional tax treatment in the country.

The presence of the necessary regulatory framework and financial resources that arrive to local budgets allows to all 36 Nigerian states of the country to participate in foreign economic operations and investment projects with foreign companies.

Apart from attracting of investments, Nigerian authorities also allocate their own funds for the development of agriculture, industry, traffic network. All state contracts are put up for tender.

Positive processes occur in the service sector. Wholesale and retail trade, hotel and restaurant business, banking and insurance services are steadily developing. Telecommunication sector is a recognized leader of the growth not only in service sector, but also in the entire Nigerian economy almost for several years. Construction and cement industries are also developing.

However, we have a little wandered from the stated point — African dream of Nigerian. Visual aid is to come: this is another success story of the second richest entrepreneur in Nigeria Mike Adenuga, who is known as a mild philanthropist and business genius, but more often just as a Bull.

Under the sign of the Bull

Nigerian magazine City People entitled entrepreneur Dr. Mike Adenuga as the Person of the Year-2015. The nomination is awarded for special contribution to the humanitarian sphere and achievements in business development. “His charity work is not accompanied by showy gestures and noisy presentations, but his leading role in the African business is undeniable”, mentioned participants of the award ceremony.

Mike Adenuga is a mild philanthropist and business genius. He is known not only in Nigeria but also all over the African continent. The Forbes magazine puts the oil king and telecommunications tycoon of Nigeria to the seventh place in the African list of the top 50. For Nigeria this result is the second after the undefeated Aliko Dangote.

Self-made man

Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga was born on April 29, 1953 in Lagos. His father was a school teacher. They lived plainly even according to the Nigerian standards and they had to rely only on themselves. In the last years of high school, Mike began working as a driver and was saving up money to education. Thirst for knowledge was really strong: the guy ma­naged to get two diplomas of two prestigious universities — Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Pace University, New York with degrees in Business Administration. To make ends meet, he had to travel on US highways: this time as a taxi driver.

He began to earn first serious money when he was twenty five years old. He started to sell Coca-Cola and textiles at home by making some contacts in the US. However, neither grocery nor fashion business did not carry away a young man. The main thing that he has taught from America is not to be ashamed of your own ambitions and give them free rein. In 1990, he received his first license to develop a small patch of oil shelf. That was the beginning.

 

The Bull

It is interesting how one person can be both: mild philanthropist and business genius. Probably you need a lifetime to reconcile contraries. Anyway, at the dawn of his business career, Mike Adenuga attained another nickname: The Bull. The reason for this is not only his sign of the zodiac: he is one of those who was bursting to go into action and when getting involved, he never retreated.

In 1991, he founded the oil company Conoil (Consolidated Oil Company) that started oil development and quickly came to the industrial scale. Telecommunications company Globacom that appeared later has become the second operator in Nigeria, working also in Ghana, Benin and several other countries in West Africa. In 2007, Adenuga was entitled an African Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2009, a misfortune has happened: Adenuga was charged with money laundering, he had to leave the country and hole up in London. But soon authorities at home changed and he was forgiven. Anyway, according to the Forbes, his net income in 2015 amounted to nearly 4 billion dollars.

Adenuga’s secret of success is in his amazing vision of perspective, the ability to convert the little things into the essence. In short, this is his intuition. For example, Nigeria’s telecommunications industry as, indeed, the whole of Africa was based on the principle of per-minute billing. Nigerian entrepreneur was hardly familiar with the work of the Russian poet Robert Rozhdestvensky, but a wise message “Do not look down on the seconds” moved him to effective experiment. Globacom began to work on per-second billing. Most people said him that the move is risky and early, but Adenuga was right: customers just stormed the sales offices. Globacom dared to risk further. Enlisting the trust of the market the company became a consumption pioneer of mobile Internet, Blackberry and other innovative new products in Nigeria. In 2010, it had over 20 million users throughout Africa.

In 2010 Adenuga invested one billion dollars in the Glo 1 Submarine Cable project, laying cable telecommunication system under the sea, connecting Europe with 16 countries of West Africa.

 

Oligarch

The art of human communication is the principal art of a businessman. Actually, what does it mean oligarch or in other words tycoon? First of all, this is a person who knows how to be at the right time in the right place and with the right men. Adenuga followed this principle strictly. Certified in America manager earned his first million at home when he was 26 years old. Perhaps he could stop on this, slowly building on the success, but Adenuga appreciated this milestone only as a stage to find himself in the business.

When handling textiles and laces which were popular among local fashionable women, he thought of real, large business. Telecommunications, banking, oil and the riches of the earth? Everything will be in his life, of course, but first on the earth, right before his eyes, there was a large construction project in which the whole country turned into during those years. Adenuga decided to try.

There were many influential officials among the masters and patrons of the construction business and the young entrepreneur who still had American gloss, quickly found a common language with them. Adenuga attained a reputation as a thoughtful, well-educated and capable of creative thinking person. The “right” campaign trusted him. A few years later he entered the top list of the recipients of large government contracts.

His construction business went like clockwork and at the same time grew with other, no less promising areas. In 1989, he received a banking license and opened Devcom Bank, one of the first banks in Nigeria that specializes in the provision of support financial services. A year later Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB) was opened and it became one of the most successful commercial banks in the country. In 2005, the banks have merged into a powerful Equitorial Trust Bank. But intuition whispered something again and in 2011 Adenuga sold it and opened new commercial giant — Sterling Bank.

 

Oil & Conoil

Is there any life without oil? Definitely not, in such a country as Nigeria. The same can be said about life in a big business: no matter how much entrepreneur’s portfolio was diver­sified it will always miss the point without oil. There are no such gaps in the investment baggage of Nigerian businessman Adenuga. The energy sector has been and still remains his priority.

The story of his Conoil Producing Limited started in 1991 in order to bring the company to the level of one of the most prominent players in the Nigerian energy market. It was the first private entity that produced crude oil on a commercial scale. By 2010, Conoil Producing was extracting up to 100 thousand barrels per day. In April 2011, Adenuga could get the most prolific onshore oil block OML-30 for just 650 million dollars.

In the oil industry, as well as in other businesses, Adenuga build his strategy, firstly, by intuition, and secondly, due to the mentioned above the art of communication, in the third (so it can not be ignored), due to his high professionalism. In 2000, on the wave of privatization launched by the authorities, he received a controlling stake in NOLCHEM (National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company Plc). The company at that time was a shadow of itself: it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Just one year later the new owner returned its being, and in two years the company was one of the leaders in the business. After receiving a new name — Conoil PLC — it became one of the largest private oil companies in the country.

As good and evil tongues say: Mike Adenuga can do everything! What is noteworthy he does not even joke on that score: “The secret of my success — is hard work, God’s will and good luck... I have never set a goal to become the richest of the richest. To multiply the wealth of Nigeria and Africa — is a different story. This objective is more realistic”.

 

Mike Adenuga Foundation

It took some time to became philanthropist. But now the story of the glorious deeds of Mi­ke Adenuga Foundation is developing as if by itself. “The idea of establishing a foundation — that’s what I thought for many years. I have worked all my life and I was convinced that I am in luck! Although, you know, at the same time I have always remembered someone’s winged words: the harder I work, the luckier I get”, — Adenuga wrote in his blog.

Range of humanitarian interests of the Foundation includes business and education, health care and villages development. The organization provides scholarships for job training, students, young scientists and innovators. Adenuga understands that solving all the accumulated social problems in the country is not easy: “There will be as challenges as obstacles on this way, but the solution should be conceived as the challenges that we face in the business: rationally and the main thing is to keep the eyes on the prize”. 

Russia — Nigeria

Diplomatic relations between the USSR and Nigeria have been established on November 25, 1960, immediately after Nigeria declared independence. The Soviet Union provided assistance to the country, as well as to many other countries of liberated Africa, in geological exploration, creation of industrial infrastructure, training of national staff, health care development. How are the relations with Russia now?

In diplomatic language, our countries “have considerable potential for cooperation”. The volume of Russian-Nigerian trade exchange, according to the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation at the end of 2012, amounted to 223.2 million dollars, including Russian export — 197.9 million dollars, import — 25.3 million dollars. The main items of the Russian export are products of chemical industry, including mineral fertilizers (50%), metals and products made of them (22%), food products and agricultural raw materials (14.2%), wood and pulp and paper products (4.8%).

Cocoa beans and derivative products, plant products for perfumes and pharmaceuticals, natural rubber are prevailed in import. In 2015, the trade volume has grown, although not by much: up to 300 million dollars. Thus, Nigeria takes the 2nd place among the Russian partner countries in sub-Saharan Africa (after the Republic of South Africa) and Russia takes 10th place among the foreign trade partners of Nigeria.

In 2001, president of Nigeria Obasanjo paid official visit to Moscow. Declaration on the Principles of Friendly Relations and Partnership was signed. Russian-Nigerian Intergovernmental Mixed Commission on Economic and Scientific-Technical Cooperation is operating since 2004. Russia-Nigeria Business Council was established and contacts between the chambers of commerce and industry are supported. In 2008, our two countries signed a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU), including ones on regulation of peaceful use of nuclear energy and on Russian participation in the exploration and development of oil wells and gas reserves in Nigeria.

President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev visited Abuja in 2009. A delegation of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Nigeria visited Moscow in June 2010. In short, according to the official press releases, “the Russian-Nigerian relations have friendly nature and maintained by a regular political dialogue, including one at the highest level”.

According to the website of the Russian Embassy in Nigeria, the economic interest of Russia in this country “has considerable potential for cooperation in the fields of infrastructure development, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, electricity generation (including nuclear energy), hydrocarbon production and other raw minerals. Nigeria, for its part, is interested in the joint development of the energy sector”.

But there was not noticeable special drive until now. The same site informs us that in Nigeria “one of the largest Russian company UC “RUSAL” carries out its investment activity and owns 77.5% of shares of Nigerian enterprise that produces aluminium “ALSCON” in the southeastern state of Akwa Ibom. However, the UC “RUSAL” was forced to temporarily cease production of aluminum in spring, 2013 due to a constant lack of stable gas supply to the enterprise. Nigerian side has obligations to ensure it with gas”.

Russian-Nigerian Business and Investment Forum, dedicated to the 53rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 50th anniversary from the day of opening of the Nigerian Embassy in Russia was held in Moscow at the end of 2013. It is noteworthy that this date is counted from the time of the Soviet Union: it is precisely the time of the bilateral cooperation peak. Representative Nigerian delegation, composed of governors of provinces, members of the government, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, heads of companies arrived to participate in the forum. According to the parties, Russian entrepreneurs have lack of sufficient information about Nigeria and Nigerians about Russia. The guest of honor of the forum was the president of the African Business Roundtable, a prominent Nigerian businessman and politician Bamanga Tukur. In his speech, he urged Russian businesses to work more actively in the Nigerian market, to participate in the investment projects of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the headquarters of which, by the way, is located in Nigeria. For its part, the Nigerian provinces prepared presentations of their investment opportunities in the energy sector, financial sphere, housing and public utilities, agriculture, agro-processing.

According to the Russian Embassy in Nigeria, the Nigerian side considers Russia as one of the potential foreign partners for the development of nuclear energy. An agreement on cooperation in designing, construction, operation and decommissioning of the nuclear power plant on the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was signed on June 4, 2012. In April 2015, Nigeria and Russia continued negotiations.

In December 2015, Nigeria LNG expressed its intention to cooperate with Gazprom and does not exclude the possibility of a long-term contract for the sale of LNG.

Russian OC “LUKOIL” plans to expand its activity in Nigeria. The head of the company Vagit Alekperov said about it at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, 2016. It should be mentioned that this is not the first year LUKOIL works in Nigeria.

An important area of relations in the field of education is traditionally training of the Nigerian citizens in Russian universities. More than 10 thousand of Nigerian professionals were trained in Russia. The potential for cooperation remains high. 

 

The legal basis of relations between Russia and Nigeria

04.06.2012 — The agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on cooperation in the designing, construction, operation and decommissioning of a nuclear power plant on the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

24.06.2009 — The agreement between the Russian Federation and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on transfer of persons sentenced to imprisonment for serving sentence.

24.06.2009 — The agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy.

24.06.2009 — The memorandum on Understanding between the Federal Space Agency and the National Space Research and Development Agency of Nigeria on Cooperation in the field of exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

22.10.2004 — The agreement between Govern­ment of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on regulation of the debt of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Russian Federation on existing loans.

13.05.1999 — The agreement between Govern­ment of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Coo­peration in fighting against traffic of drugs and psychotropic substances, misuse and legalization (laundering) of income gained in a criminal way.

10.12.1987 — The trade agreement between the Government of the USSR and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

04.22.1970 — The agreement on cultural and scientific cooperation and exchanges between the USSR and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Book your tickets

Nigeria is a country where cinema is rightfully considered to be the most important art. The film industry, The Nollywood, the Nigerian factory of dreams — has helped the country to become the economic leader of the African continent. Anyway, without Nollywood, Nigeria, despite its oil prosperity, could not climb on the highest step of the African podium.

Nigeria is the embodiment of all that the imagination can create: vast expanses of land and sky, weave of contrasting colors, tribal cultures, religions and temperaments. In that sense, the heyday of Nollywood was a programmed phenomenon. Moreover, in its numerous television series and full-length films about Africa and its history the storytellers are the Africans themselves.

Take 1

Europeans are used to think that most films in the world are made in Hollywood. But this is not so. We forget about the Indian Bollywood (where up to two thousand films a year are produced) and Nigerian Nollywood, which produces about a thousand and a half full-length films every year. And if we add TV series, the Nollywood production will be currently estimated as 2500 films per year. Any room with air conditioning, restaurant, hotel lobby or even the interior of the bus can become a cine­ma there. There is no chase after big budgets and stunning scenes. Even quality of shooting does not really matter there. The main thing is that the most ordinary consumer can afford this film.

First attempts to shoot films were made in Nigeria in the 60s. But the high cost of production and the absence of the market led to the fact that the film industry did not work out. Financing of films that were shot before the mid-80’s, took place mainly from the former metropolis — the UK, where most of the actors and directors were living. Among the representatives of that generation of Nigerian filmmakers one can distinguish Ola Adedehi Hubert Ogunde — an actor and producer, who at the end of his career managed to play in a movie with Pierce Brosnan.

The situation started to change in the mid-80’s, when state television was created in Nigeria. From the very first days the amount of foreign content on the channel was limited by the law, so the management of the channel had to seek ways to substitute import. As a result, television dramas of the local theater companies got on air and became popular, which led to the rapid development of the genre of television plays. Cheap tools for home cutting appeared by the mid-90’s. It has removed a major obstacle for the transition of producers from television plays to films — the high cost of projects.

One of the reasons of the Nigerian film revolution was the availability of inexpensive semiprofessional digital technologies (there were, of course, a lot of talents in the country). In short, an economic chain has appeared: oil supported economy, the growing economy opened the way to innovations, and innovations — to the film industry, which has become, in turn, the engine of economic development

Media with new movies (DVD, VCD) arrive in local stores (the product range is updated weekly) where they are sold for an average of 2 dollars per item — this price is quite satisfactory for both consumers and authors of the films. Usually the circulation of a film averages to 50 thousand copies, while the hit movies can be sold at 150 – 200 thousand copies on the very first day. In fact, even if the picture does not become a hit, its creators’ profit amounts to hundreds of percent — the volume of the industry at the present time according to various estimates vary from 250 to 500 million dollars.

There are no actual film studios, but there are many film companies. Most Nigerian films are shot in Lagos. It is where the largest companies are located: the headquarters of Mainframes, Etisalat, Corporate Pictures and smaller companies, about a thousand of which exist. The producer’s office looks more like a small video warehouse. Each film is made in a week and a half. However, Edzhiro Chico, one of the most successful Nigerian producers and directors who has made more than 80 films, is sure that he only needs three days for a full meter. Instead of the pavilions and decorations, shootings take place on location.

The average budget of a film is 15 – 25 thousand dollars. For comparison, it is the starting level of the price of one minute of animation projects in Disney Hollywood Studios and Pixar or a salary of a beginner scriptwriter in the Russian cinema industry.

Who needs such movies? Everyone. No one wants to shell out much for a ticket. Moreover, a disc can be rented for 25 cents. If the film becomes popular, then it will be bought by the cable television network. Although power cuts in Nigeria are a common phenomenon, the public still has time to watch a movie. It is not surprising that video piracy is a problem which is not to be worried about — with such dumping prices it is not profitable. On the other hand, only in Nigeria itself the annual profit of the industry varies between 250 and 500 million dollars. And there are other African countries.

 

Take 2

Nollywood has its own stars. Desmond Elliott, Ramsey Noah, Stella Damasus, Saidi Balogun, Evkariya Anonubi, Kate Henshaw-Nutall live, by the African standards, a royal life and their personal life is the subject of attention of fans and the press. Thus, for example, the fortune of the richest Nollywood actress, Kate Henshaw-Nutall, draws up to half a million dollars. Not a bad sum, considering that making it big abroad is not that simple for Nigerian actors.

Nollywood makes movies about Africans and for Africans using that form of broken English called Pidgin English. The genre is basically pulp fiction, praised by Tarantino in its most trashy incarnation. Main themes are love, prostitution, crime, witchcraft, and corruption. These are the stories, where emotional torments of a pop star is adjacent to the chronicle of the excesses of the corrupt policeman, and the picture of luxury living adjacent to the legend about migrant workers are being cheated. Discs with such films scatter throughout Africa — sometimes parties of discs are used as an equivalent for pan-African currency.

Not everybody is delighted with this expansion. Cultural elites of Africa decry the Nollywood production because it indulges baser instincts of the audience. They are particularly outraged with the exploitation of the witchcraft theme which has become actual for Africa in the recent years. The ancient animism as the basis of people’s beliefs, revived interest in woodoo rituals, and rapid growth of communities of Evangelical Christian sect which started a real witch hunt, everything coincided. Children are often accused in witchcraft or possession by evil spirits.

But there is nothing that can be done. Nollywood is a part of the first African economy. Moreover, of a very dynamic one. Competitors understand it well. For example, the police in Ghana, where there is their own growing film industry under the name of Ghallywood, Liberia, where there is a small Lolliwood, and Congo are making regular raids on the video market, confiscating Nollywood discs. However, in the meantime these films reach the consumer with enviable regularity — 50 new films a week. And it made Africa, that dropped the yoke of colonialism, speak about the internal colonization by Nollywood.

Variegated Nigeria

The official language of Nigeria is English. But people in this country are able to speak 514 languages. There are about 370 officially recognized tribes. And each brought their rational kernel into the national culture.

Let’s take, for example, architecture — it definitely would not work out without the tribal traditions. Houses in different parts of Nigeria are different in shape and construction materials used. In the North they are rectangular, walls are made of clay, and roofs are flat. In the Southern, South-Western and South-Eastern states located in the area of tropical forests, you will see windows with carved shutters and gable roofs covered with palm leaves. Yoruba and Igbo tribes place their residential and farm buildings on the perimeter of a rectangular courtyard, which is surrounded by the covered galleries of carved wooden pillars. In the central states peoples’ houses tend to have a rounded shape. The walls are also built from clay and straw roofs of conical shapes are decorated with relief ornaments and ceramic plates. Is it graceful? Undoubtedly. In the cities, of course, everything went in a European way: brick, glass, concrete.

The origin of fine arts on the territory of modern Nigeria dates back to the 1st millennium BC (Terracotta plastic of Nok culture). Among the world’s masterpieces are the sculptures of the Yoruba people. This is an important part of the art of West Africa. In the course of archaeological excavations started in 1938 in the ancient state of Ife terracotta figurines were found; the age of the oldest findings is more than 800 years.

World-famous are bronze sculptures of the Ife culture (statues of rulers, with their striking naturalism, multi-figured compositions, ritual vessels), Benin bronze (portraits of the royal family, the relief plates with images of people and animals), wooden masks of Igbo people.

Modern art has been developing in Nigeria since the mid-1950s. Its formation, now with European trends, has been joined by the university centers of the country.

Almost in all universities of Nigeria art departments that prepare national cadres of artists, graphic artists, sculptors and designers have been created. There are numerous exhibition centers and art galleries functioning. Only in Lagos there are more than 70 of those, including Aaragon Gallery, Art and Objects Gallery, Didi Museum and others. In Lagos there is an acting National Gallery of Modern Art under the National theatre. The cultural centers of Great Britain, Germany, Russia, the United States and France in Nigeria take part in organization of exhibitions (only in 1995 – 1998, the Russian center helped to organize about 30 solo and group exhibitions).

A. Onabolu is believed to be the founder of the national school of painting in the country. Such artists as Colada Oshinovo and Rufus Ogundele have received international recognition. Modern Nigerian painters (Abiodun Olaku, K.K. Karunvi) and sculptors (Allie Olayinka, Olabisi Onavale Fakiye Patrick Agoze) have repeatedly exhibited their works abroad. There is a rich collection of African traditional and contemporary art in the Benin National Museum (in Benin City), as well as in the national museums in Lagos, Kano, Ife, Kaduna, Jos. Objects of ancient art of Nigeria are presented at exhibitions and private collections of many museums in the world, including the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) in St. Petersburg.

Nigeria Business Card is crafts. It includes woodcarving (household items, decorated with ornaments, images of people and animals), pottery, jewelry craft (gold and silver jewelry with stamping), weaving and batik (especially deve­loped among Yoruba), multicolor embroidery, weaving baskets and mats made from reed and straw, tableware made of colored glass vessels from dried gourds (“calabashes”), as well as leather goods (belts, bags, saddles, shoes and pads). The tradition of bronze casting and carving ivory have been preserved. Many items are decorated with beads.

Legends and stories about the creation, about the first rulers, and about the famous heroes and warriors are passed from generation to generation. The rich oral folk tradition is widely used by the Nigerian writers. For example, the books by A. Tutuola “One who drinks palm wine”, “My life is in the realm of spirits”, “Brave African Huntress” are based on myths and legends of the Yoruba. Modern Nigerian writers — Chinua Achebe, Onuora Nzekvu, Cyprian Equense — do not sidestep the problem of collisions of traditionalism and the new trends in the country.

In the recent years, people have been talking more and more about the Nigerian literature, sculptures, about the Nigerian art in general. In the context of such a multinational state like Nigeria, it is especially important. This explains the growing desire of the people inhabiting the country to call themselves Nigerians — regardless of their ethnic origin.

 

Traditional music of Nigeria

The art of music in Nigeria began to take shape in the medieval period, when slave and feudal states of Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo and other nations appeared. A major role in the development of music was played by the secret societies, in which the youth were trained under the leadership of the oldest representatives of the tribes in ritual dances and songs, and in playing the ethnic folk music.

According to the testimony of Arab travelers, at the courts of kings in the Middle Ages there were orchestras, singers, and dancers; Musical instruments were inlaid, decorated with gold and silver. There were more than 200 people in the Yoruba Palace Orchestra. Musicians were playing at festivals, ceremonies, and talked with the people in the name of the ruler, using the language of the drums. The court singers and storytellers (arokins) created and passed from generation to generation oral palace chronicles, which contained the genealogy of the rulers and the description of the most significant events in the history of the country.

Each God or divine ancestor, Orishas (more than 400 of those), had its own Ourique, a kind of hymn describing and praising it. Some Nigerian langu­ages are tonal, so many legends in Nigeria are transmitted by means of the drum.

 

Classics and Contemporaries

Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian classic, who has become the second owner of Man Booker Prize International in history. His victory left such nominees as Ian McEwan, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Carlos Fuentes without this prestigious award. For half a century of literary and public career this writer has received numerous awards and honorary degrees from universities of the world.

The fate of Achebe, the person who opened the new African prose to the world, was fairly typical for the natives of the British colonies, whose parents had been converted to Christianity.

Albert Chinualumogu Achebe was born in 1930 in a family of newly converted Protestants. His father, a spokesman for the Ibo nation, was a schoolteacher. He sent his son to college in the city of Umuahia. After college, Chinua joined the newly created Nigerian branch of the University of London, later called the University of Ibadan. A whole galaxy of writers and public figures, many of whom were destined to receive international acclaim were brought up within the walls of this alma mater. So, Wole Soyinka, the first black African winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature studied at this University, being a few years younger than Achebe. Writer Elechi Amadi, playwright John Pepper Clark Bekederemo, poet Christopher Okigbo studied together with Chinua Achebe.

At university Achebe studied English, history and theology. During these years he abandoned his “white” name Albert and signed only with his African name. After graduation, he spent some time traveling through Africa and America, and then started to work on national radio in Nigeria, Lagos. During the Civil War (1967 – 1970) Achebe was at the diplomatic service in the self-pro­claimed republic of Biafra. Thereafter, he did not return to the civil service, focusing on literature.

Achebe’s first novel, written in 1958, in English, was called All things fall apart (in the Russian translation, created in 1964 by the publishing house “Hudozhestvennaya Literatura” it was called And the destruction has come). By this time, Nigeria had two well-known contemporary authors — Amos Tutuola and Cyprian Equense. The first wrote phantasmagorical novels, based on the tales of the Yoruba people, the second brought the local urban folklore to the literature. Achebe wrote a quite realistic novel about the coming of the white man to the land of Nigerians.

The book, All things fall apart came out just in time — on the eve of the full decolonization of Africa, and Achebe turned into the mouthpiece of the Black Continent. He and Wole Soyinka became widely known in Europe and America. Achebe’s novel has been translated in total into half a hundred languages and about ten million copies of it have been published. None other of the African authors has achieved such a greatsuccess. “All things fall apart” has got into the lists of the hundred best novels of all time several times.

5 sights of Nigeria

Nigeria is attractive because of the origi­nality of people living there, its beautiful natural landscapes, rich collections of the museums and the variety of the old monuments.

Lagos city

Lagos was the capital of the state until 1970. But it rightfully holds a status of the second capital now. The city, or rather megalopolis, occupies virtually the entire territory of Lagos State and consists of a large number of areas connected and separated by highways.

The main sight is the markets, which occupy large areas in Lagos, mainly outdoors. Everything is mixed up here in a most peculiar way: clamoring sellers and buyers, machines and cabs with handcarts. People come to these markets not only from Nigeria but also from neighboring countries. After all, Lagos is one of the largest ports in Africa. Here one can buy everything and at a very reasonable price. Of course, there are supermarkets in Lagos located mainly in the fashionable area of Victoria Island. There is also a business center with office blocks of glass and concrete, as well as respectable restaurants and casinos. But real life is in full swing around the markets.

Sunday church services are also very interesting. On weekends, almost all the population dresses up and heads to church. Services are quite fun. With songs and the orchestra strumming national melodies almost every service turns into a small folk festival.

 

Kano city

Kano is Nigeria’s oldest city. It is located in the northern part of the country and is a major cultural and economic center of the country. After Lagos it is Nigeria’s second city in terms of population — about 400 thousand people. Almost 2/5 of all those are employed in the industry of the Central North and about half of its industrial production falls to the share of Kano. The city grew from a small settlement located in the rich in iron ore Dalla Hill. It reached its peak in the second half of the XV century during the brisk trade on the trans-Saharan routes. At that time, Kano market was the largest in West Africa. Merchants traded widely and not only in Africa, but also exported leather and textile products to the European markets. In 1912 the Western Railway was built to the city.

Nowadays almost all export products manufactured in the Central North are concentrated in Kano. Bags of peanuts, stacked in pyramids and waiting to be sent to Lagos, form an integral part of the appearance of Kano. Kano serves not only the North of the country; by sandy roads and highways it is connected to the capital of Niger — Niamey, as well as to the Malian cities of Gao and Timbuktu, and the capital of Chad — Ndjamena. Airways connect Kano both to Nigerian cities and a number of cities in Europe, America and various parts of Africa.

Old and new things are combined in Kano. The voice of the muezzin summoning the Muslims to prayer sounds from the minaret of the mosque, the biggest in West Africa. Near the mosque stands the ancient palace of the Emir of Kano. It is crowded during religious holidays at the Palace Square, where ceremonies take place.

Artisans settle in traditional areas: in some of them dyers, in others — jewelers, in the third ones — weavers, tailors, etc. In the old quarters streets are narrow and houses have distinctive architecture. Each of those is a fortress with high walls.

Kano is the center of science and culture. There are university, tea­ching, administrative and technical colleges, a medical school. The number of schools is increasing. The city has a historical and ethnographic museum, a major meteorological station. Kano is the center of the state of the same name.

 

Jos Plateau

Jos Plateau is a unique natural monument of Nigeria. Cliffs, towering jungle, with flat tops and steep slopes resemble well-known “pillars” in the United States. The stones contrast with the surrounding green of the jungle. Despite its aloofness, the plateau is very popular among tourists, especially those who have climbing experience and the necessary equipment.

 

Cross-River Park

Cross River is a Nigerian National Park. Here you can find almost all the species that live in Africa. About twenty percent of all known butterflies in the world inhabit Cross-River. It is an impressive statistic for fans of eco tourism and wildlife.

 

 

Lake Chad

Lake Chad and the National Park of the same name are located in two states of Nigeria — Borno and Yobe. Sambisa Reserve is a part of the park and is a haven for migratory birds: there are more than 377 species of those here. The lake Chad itself is a fresh water pond with a rich wildlife. Here, for example, dwell rare species of aquatic mammals the manatees. Unfortunately, the size of the surface of the lake for the last forty years has considerably decreased, and there is a danger that it might disappear from the maps of Nigeria.