28 April 2008

Moving to Nigeria - What to know and do (Part 2)

In the last edition, I shared my experience on 'Moving to Nigeria - what to know and do'. The post is to give a factual view of my experience so far with respect to returning to settle in Nigeria. The strategy behind this post is to assist those who are planning to move to Nigeria and do not know where to start.

There are many stories around about the futility of trying to move and the impossibility of living in the country. Of course there are challenges; probably at every corner in Nigeria. The beauty however is that you do feel some sense of achievement for each hurdle you overcome.

Some have taken the view that moving to Nigeria is for those who have acquired a lot of money from abroad and can afford to splash out. Whilst this may be true for some people, I know and have met an increasing number of people who applied for and got a job in Nigeria from their bases in Europe and in North America. Some were headhunted and provided with the means to settle in Nigeria by their new employer

At a job fair organised by Jobs in Nigeria Exhibition (www. jinexpo.com) which I was invited to attend in England less than three weeks ago, nearly all the people present were under 23. Some of them have just graduated and a good number are graduating in June 2008. These are hardly people who have acquired wealth abroad. The gist here is that there are different experiences and routes to moving back home, this series is to assist with your settling experience whichever you take.

In this edition, I have identified some other things to know and do if you fancy moving to Nigeria. Please keep your comments coming and share your experiences too. Thank you.

8. Containing Malaria - The threat of malaria is a clear and present danger. This however can be contained by adopting some basic steps. Because malaria is transferred by mosquitoes, the challenge is to reduce your exposure.

  • The most important is to get mosquito nets. This will ensure no mosquito can feast on you at your most vulnerable state. Buy ‘impregnated nets’ which have been treated with insecticides and therefore serve a dual function of not only protecting you but also allegedly kills mosquitoes on impact. Travelpharm.com sells double nets for £29.99
  • Keep a bottle of insect repellant lotion or spray in hand especially when outdoors and apply to exposed part of your body every few hours. The non-sticky lotion in my opinion is better than the spray.
  • Fumigate your home at least once a quarter. Include the surroundings and drains. This is an effective means of containing mosquitoes and other 'stake-holding pretenders' such as mice and wall geckos (omo onile). From my personal experience, I have found that once this exercise is carried out; there is true relief from mosquitoes for a few months. Ensure that the house is thoroughly flushed and aerated before attempting to sleep in after fumigation.
  • Get your windows and the kitchen door netted.
  • Always shut the door.
  • In the likely event that you develop malaria; contact a doctor quickly, don’t rely on your past knowledge to self-medicate. Only combination drugs can effectively treat today’s new and improved version of malaria.

I have taken the time to write on preventing malaria because of the devastating effect of ignoring this scourge.

9. You need a generator – electricity supply is erratic. Apart from Aso Rock and the Governors’ mansions, practically everyone else needs a generator to augment the national grid. Until recently, I did not know that air conditioners are expressed in horse power and generators in KVA. Now I feel confident enough to give advice on this.

  • A simple 5 or 6 KVA petrol generator will carry your fridge, freezer, lights and a 1.5 horsepower air-conditioner. If you switch on any of the following - iron, water heater, electric cooker, microwave or kettle in addition, the generator will almost certainly rebel.
  • Petrol generators have a scattered annoying noise.
  • To be able to carry all your household appliances including up to 7 air conditioners, iron, microwave, water heater at the same time, you will need at least a 27KVA diesel generator.
  • 27KVA sound proof generators retail for between 1.5 to 2 million Naira. 'Cummins', 'CAT' and 'Perkins' brand are well regarded although you will need to check for fakes.
  • If you can, get a sound proof generator, your quality of life will be hugely improved.
  • The more appliances you have on, the faster the fuel consumption, so switch off any air conditioner or appliances not in use.

I am planning to buy an ‘Inverter’ which according to a friend can equally do the job without the noise and the fuel cost, howbeit, may not power air conditioners.

10. Internet Access – Most of the major telecoms operators also offer Internet services. Although most claim they offer broadband services, I have however not found any that gives anywhere near the speed of what obtains in Europe and North America.

Internet Service is horrendously expensive. A 24hour, 300kbs EVDO ‘broadband’ service averages 15,000 Naira (£65 / $130) per month. Visafone charges 15,000 Naira for their Gold Service whilst Starcomms EVDO card is 15,595 Naira.

11. Where to live - This is a matter of choice. Many returnees however prefer housing estates because of security reasons. The most popular on the Mainland are Ogudu GRA, Magodo GRA, Omole Phase 1 and 2 and Ikeja GRA.

On the Island, the desirable areas are Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki Phase 1, Femi Okunu, Northern Foreshore, Goshen Estate, and Victoria Garden City (VGC). Apart from Ikoyi and Victoria Island, the rest of these Island estates are on the Lekki-Epe Expressway.

It appears that many returnees prefer to live on the Island because the shops, the good restaurants, and the cinemas are there. The Lekki axis is also geographically nearer to Victoria Island which has metamorphosed from a purely residential precinct to the Wall Street of Nigeria.
The downside to the Lekki axis is the very bad traffic. The reason being that the route is served by only one major road to which all of the estates along the route empty its people morning, noon and night. So whilst Lekki is nearer to the business district of VI, it often take hours to travel to and from work.

The minimum rent for a four bedroom house in Magodo GRA, Omole Phase 1 and 2, Ogudu GRA, Femi Okunu and Nothern Foreshore is 1.2 million Naira per year. Lekki Phase 1 and Goshen Estate are in the reange of 2.5 million per year. Ikeja GRA, Victoria Island will hover around the 4 million Naira mark. Ikoyi and VGC may well be around 5-6 million Naira per year. Standard deposit is 2 years plus 10% for other costs.

There are probably other good locations scattered around the city which may be better than those described, PostCardfromLagos will welcome your suggestions and comments.

12. Newspapers
The most popular dailies are ‘Guardian’, ‘Punch’, and ‘This Day.’ This Day’ is particularly popular on Sundays because of its colourful ‘Style magazine. Simon Kolawole’s articles on the back page of Sunday’s ‘This Day’ are passionate and relevant.

‘The Punch’ claims to be the most widely read Nigerian newspapers and at 100 Naira is cheaper than ‘This Day’ and ‘The Guardian’.

‘The Guardian’ has good editorials and is neatly laid out.

Watch out for Part 3 – coming soon PostcardfromLagos