8 Best Cities for Business in Nigeria

cities to set up a business in Nigeria-entrepreneurn.com

Choosing a city to start up you business or livelihood is a daunting task. One that if not carefully done can be the beginning of your downfall. And seeing as there are many Nigerian cities with a lot of promise, it can also be a confusing venture. We have put up a list of some of the most active cities and the sectors or areas they have proven to be best suited for. The thing with cities is that no one city can have it all, at best they have a certain area as their strength. The best thing to do would be to identify the city whose strength is closest to this business you want to start and set up your business in it.

To give you a clearer picture, we have put up a list of the 10 most active Nigerian cities or states with the business sectors they are most favourable to. We have also listed the upsides and downsides of the said cities.

Cities to set up a Business in Nigeria # Kano:

Kano is one of the biggest states in Nigeria. If your interests are in agriculture, leather goods and or general commerce then this city would be best suitable for you. Crops like rice, groundnuts, tomatoes are planted and harvested in huge quantities in Kano since the weather and soil there is suitable for it. If you wanted to start a rice, tomatoes or groundnut farm, then consider moving to Kano.

  • Upsides:
  1. Vast lands for agriculture.
  2. Centre of commerce and trading activities.
  • Downsides:
  1. The weather there is dry and thus people are more prone to outbreaks of cough or catarrh. If you are asthmatic is may not be favourable to you.
  2. It is also a Northern state and thus might not be a safe place for a non-northerner to buy immovable properties like land or houses in. Kano has also been known to be prone to riots fuelled by cultural conflicts

Cities to set up a  Business in Nigeria # Lagos:

Ask any Nigerian which state they think would be best to start hustling in and they would mention Lagos. True to the hype Lagos is one of the most developed cities in Nigeria housing most of the major commercial activities in Nigeria. The fact that it is positioned along the ocean and is the first port of entry by the sea even makes it more suitable for businesses involving importation and exportation. It is also the hub of Information technology in Nigeria, so if you wanted to make a business out of technology, Lagos would be the city for you.

  • Upsides:
  1. It is densely populated and thus offers a larger customer or clientele base.
  2. It is less prone to riots or violence fuelled by cultural conflicts since no one particular ethnic group has the larger population in it.
  3. The cost of living is relatively low.
  • Downsides:
  1. Traffic hold ups occurs so often that you may always miss the most important meetings while held up in traffic.
  2. It is one of the toughest cities to survive in, seeing as there are all kinds of scamming activities there.
  3. The cost of housing or accommodation is relatively high.
  4. If you don’t like noise and densely packed places, stay away from Lagos.

Cities to set up a Business in Nigeria # Port Harcourt:

Port Harcourt is fast growing to become one of the most industrialized state in Nigeria. It is the centre of all oil and gas activities in the country. If you want to pursue a career in the oil and gas sector then Port Harcourt should be the city for you.

  • Upsides:
  1. The city has a lot of oil companies and as such should be one of the biggest employers of engineers.
  2. It’s an all round nice and beautiful city to live in and is not too densely packed with people as opposed to Lagos.
  • Downsides:
  1. The cost of living is relatively high.

Cities to set up a Business in Nigeria # Abuja:

Abuja is a city best suited for people whose line of work involves contracts for the government and other government related work. a lot. So much that it you may not even get to actually enjoy the hustle. Cost of renting a shop is high

  • Upsides:
  1. Abuja is filled with people willing to spend money, so no matter how highly priced your service or product is, there will always be buyers as long as it is worth it.
  2. Abuja is one of the best places to build the right connection of friends. Only wealthy people can afford to live at such high rates, this implies that if you decided to mingle in the crowds in a place like that, chances are you would be making friends with the wealthy and highly connected and building yourself a network of useful connections and acquaintances.
  • Downsides:
  1. The cost of living there is too high
  2. The cost of renting a house or a shop is equally high
  3. The cost of living is so high that even if you made a lot of money, you would spend all of it paying the equally huge bills.

Cities to set up a Business in Nigeria # Calabar:

Calabar is one of the most exciting cities in Nigeria. It is a perfect tourist zone and also attracts Nigerians from far and wide during its annually held “Calabar Carnival”. The city is perfect for trading especially since it is such a big tourist attraction.

  • Upsides:
  1. Nigerians travel from far and wide to Calabar during its festive periods. These large crowds convert to customers and clients for the local businesses.
  • Downsides:
  1. The city is less populated when the festive season is off and hence offers a smaller customer base.

Cities to set up a Business in Nigeria # Onitsha:

Onitsha is well known as one of the major commercial area in Nigeria. With its legendary “Main Market” which has grown to be not just the biggest in Nigeria but the biggest in West Africa. Traders from other states journey all the way to Onitsha to get supplies for themselves. Onitsha offers one of the largest markets in Nigeria.

  • Upsides:
  1. The kind of market which Onitsha offers is not just one where you sell to consumers, but also one where you sell to the retailers. This shows that there is a ready and huge market to take advantage of in Onitsha.
  2. The cost of living in Onitsha is relatively low.
  • Downsides:
  1. The city is densely packed and noisy too.

Cities to set up a Business in Nigeria # Aba:

Aba has grown to become one of the fastest developing cities in Nigeria. It is not just known for trading, but also for manufacturing and as such has proved itself to be one of the commercial states in Nigeria. The city houses companies and talented people fronting the Made in Nigeria movement. Shoes, bags, clothes, accessories, etc are all being manufactured at Aba, and the quality of the said items just keep getting better and better. At this rate, Aba is a city set to show itself on the map. If your line is manufacturing or even trading, Aba would be favourable for you.

  • Upsides:
  1. The cost of living there is relatively low
  2. The city offers a large market and clientele base for all trading related businesses.
  • Downsides:
  1. The city does not have the posh ambience of other cities like Port Harcourt and Abuja.

Cities to set up a Business in Nigeria # Enugu:

Enugu is one of the fast developing eastern states. It is known for coal and iron-ore mining. It is also packed with industries in vegetable oil processing and food processing. The fact that it has more than three major universities is also another pointer to the fact that the market and customer base Enugu offers is indeed large.

  • Upsides:
  1. It is not scarcely populated and as such offers a significant promising clientele or customer base.
  2. The cost living in not too high.
  • Downsides:
  1. It is a small state and as such might not accommodate as much activities as other bigger states can.
  2. The fact that the students there would significantly contribute to your clientele base implies that your patronage would drastically fall on vacations when students are not in session.

However, as earlier stated in the article, the best city for your business would depend on the kind of business it is. It would be best to set up in a city where the people there have been known to greatly patronize this kind of service or product you want to market.


Did you find this article helpful? Is there a city you think should have made the list? Drop it in the comment box.