Day 8+9 - The Country of Opposites


Business Development Manager, Lars Nørgaard's travel to Nigeria has now come to an end. In this last blog post, he reflects on his experiences in Nigeria

Day 8 and 9

February 29 - March 1, 2012 - Day 8 and 9

As my travel to Nigeria approaches its last days, I am now able to look back on 1½ weeks of interesting experiences, hectic moments and thought-provoking observations. Nigeria is without a doubt a growth country. It is also a country where much money is found - but, unfortunately, the wealth is only divided between very few people. As a consequence, Nigeria has a very weird division between rich and poor and there are problems in their everyday life that I, being Danish, will never fully understand.

On the other hand, I have met some amazing employees at Seismonaut Africa and The Nordic Villa who really contribute to making these two organisations run smoothly. It is always exciting to be among people that appreciate their jobs and are willing to contribute to a positive and reinforcing work environment. And this only makes me even more motivated to continue working with the development of Seismonaut Africa when I return to Denmark.

If I could only bring back one impression from Nigeria, this would be the one: Nigeria is a country of many contrasts, money probably being the most obvious. As an example, half an hour's research at Southern Fried Chicken (a fast food chain that is basically a mix of Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds), made it clear that, even at a fast food restaurant in Abuja, the customers were all quite wealthy - expensive cars were parked outside and some even had chauffeurs waiting for them.

In fact, in the big cities there seems to be much luxury in all respects. There are a lot of big and expensive cars in Abuja. Private schools cost $2,000 each month, rent is just as expensive as in Denmark, and I have seen many, large German cars, English cars and luxurious Japanese cars. Because of the level of wealth, there is also a large market for security and secure transportation services. In Abuja, the need for security is in reality not that high, but armed cars and police escorts transporting people to and from the airport are still seen all the time. On top of this, the many rich inhabitants in Abuja have also created a high demand for private flights - at the price of $14,000 per hour + taxes. Seeing all this wealth is in all honesty overwhelming. I cannot help but think of a quote from Fortune (an employee at The Nordic Villa): "In Nigeria rich people don't pay tax - they just buy an extra car! Many of them have 10+ cars".

Now, if only this was the only story there was to tell about Nigeria. But together with the overwhelming wealth there is also overwhelming poverty. In Nigeria, 100,000,000 people live for less than $1 each day. I have spoken to Danes who have been to areas where there was only electricity a couple of hours each day - together with the lack of other basic things. And the humanitarian organisations also tell me that there are huge problems in the country. This side of Nigeria is mainly seen when you travel outside the city centre in the larger cities, or travel to smaller towns and villages. And I am happy that I have also seen this side of the country. It makes my impression more complete, and that is exactly what I came here for.

It seems evident that the oil in Nigeria has played an important role towards creating a divided country with opposing extremes. And that Nigeria is not just big cities like Lagos and Abuja. It is both a country with many opportunities for business - and a country in need of help from humanitarian organisations. And I look forward to possibly contributing to its development in the future.

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