For long Lagos has been the economic and commercial hub of the country. While this may not be changing anytime soon there are cities emerging as also exciting places to invest and do business in Nigeria as a result of several factors which we have carefully considered;
– Ease of Doing Business
– Human Resources (population) and
– Education(higher institutions concentration)
1. Port Harcourt (Rivers)
Founded in 1912 in an area traditionally inhabited by the Ikwerre people, an Igbo subgroup, it serves as a port, named for Lewis Harcourt – the colonial secretary. Port Harcourt has long been an important merchant port and is today the centre of Nigeria’s oil industry.
With the brave steps of the Governor Rotimi Administration to restore peace and security to the oil city calm has gradually returned to Port Harcourt. The city’s relative calm means it is winning back its appeal as one of the best places to do business in Nigeria
In the Doing business in Nigeria Report 2010 it was shown that in Port Harcourt it took three days to register one’s business with the Integrated Tax Office for income tax and VAT and just 2 days to register at the state Tax Office for Personal Income Tax at no cost. Also obtaining a business premises permit from the State Ministry of Commerce and Industry took a day.
In terms of Infrastructure Port Harcourt is right up there behind perhaps Abuja with the government continually improving the existing road networks. The state government is also completing an ambitious independent power project that will give the entire state steady power supply when completed.
Port Harcourt has the market for technology products and services and is continually witnessing the entrants of more consumers. The presence of various multinational and local oil firms and the increasing oil employees provide a more financial capable target market for innovative ideas.
Businesses can’t do without good employees and Port Harcourt has several educational institutions that churn out graduates in various fields that can be easily recruited by companies new and established. The federal government owned University of Port Harcourt has a good pedigree
Ogun State is a state in South-western Nigeria bordering Lagos State to the South, Oyo and Osun states to the North, Ondo State to the east and the republic of Benin to the west. Abeokuta is the capital and largest city in the state.
Educationally Ogun State is littered with several higher institutions that churn put graduates for the labour market. the prominent among these include the Federal Government owned university; the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and two state government owned universities Olabis Onabanjo University and Tai Solarin University of Education.
The state’s position as an emerging investment destination is showcased in the emergence of Ota, a town in Ogun state as a home to various manufacturing and business conglomerates who prefer the town to the already filled and rowdy Lagos.
It generally takes between 1 and 2 days to register for business premises and obtain permit from the State Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The state is doing some obvious work in raising the infrastructure levels for smoother business operations but the main drawing force of Ogun as an emerging business destination in Nigeria is its proximity and offering as an alternative to Lagos. Little wonder renowned companies such as Nestle Nigeria Plc have set up shop in Ogun which gives them the added benefit of being close to the nation’s commercial capital. The Ota industrial town is an attractive alternative which already houses several multinationals and corporations.
Enugu is the capital of Enugu State in Nigeria. It is located in the southeastern area of Nigeria and is largely populated by members of the Igbo ethnic group. The name Enugu is derived from the two Igbo words Enu Ugwu meaning “hill top” denoting the city’s hilly geography. The city was named after Enugwu Ngwo which coal was found under. Enugu was declared the capital of the short-lived Republic of Biafra; for this Enugu is known as the “capital of Igboland.” After Enugu was captured by Nigeria, the Biafran capital was moved to Umuahia.
Enugu has been relatively the safest city in the Southeast part of Nigeria and though it is not clear whether it is down to superior security arrangements or the nature of the people the city has far less crime and insecurity than say other southeastern cities like Onitsha, Aba and Owerri.
In terms of infrastructure as at early 2012 a visit to the city showed a very impressive road network within and around the city with a far better power supply ratio than is obtainable across the rest of the country. Logistics is sure to be smoother for intending business operators within the city. With an airport (Akanu Ibiam Airport) that is being upgraded to become the first International Airport in the Southeast region the city is more positioned for growth in business investments. The Emene industrial axis and Ninth Mile are emerging business and industrial areas in the city
Though the market is not so large Enugu prides itself as a center of attraction for the many dwellers in neighbouring states that constantly troop down to Enugu for one business or the other. It is easy to attract the neighbouring markets around Enugu as has been shown by the Ama Brewery established by the Nigerian Breweries Plc which now serves a greater portion of the Southeast and Southsouth Nigeria.
Enugu has a new Corporate Affairs Commission building which is far bigger and more equipped than its previous office. Though a few bottlenecks exist it is relatively easier to register a business or company in Enugu than it is in nearby states. It takes generally a day to obtain Business premises permit from the State Ministry of Commerce and Industry according to the 2010 Doing Business in Nigeria Report.
Enugu has an abundance of higher institutions that churn out a steady stream of graduates for internship position in companies and establishments. The state owned University of Science and Technology and the famed University of Nigeria with its two campuses in Enugu and Nsukka are the most notable.
Enugu is known more for its choice as a filming location for many of Nollywood’s movies and also for its leading position in the hospitality industry in the Southeast
4. Calabar (Cross River)
Calabar is a town recongised as a seaport since the 16th century (according to Wikipedia) eventually used as a major port in the transportation of African slavesduring the dark era of slave trade. The city was once the seat of the the Niger Coast Protectorate government, Southern Protectorate and Oil River Protectorate thus regarded as Nigeria’s first capital city.
Calabar today prides itself as Nigeria’s cleanest city and has of recent become an attractive destination for those looking to mix business and pleasure boasting of the Tinapa Resort near the Calabar Free Trade zone.
Calabar is also relatively safe compared to several other states in the Niger Delta and Northern parts of the country. It’s peaceful outlook and tourist angle is of special persuasion to business people and investors looking to invest in conducive environment.
Starting a business in Calabar, while not free from the general encumberances of the Nigerian nation, is relatively easy. The number of procedures involved in starting a business in Calabar is 9 compared to 8 in Sub-Saharan Africa. It generally takes up to 4 days to conduct availability of name search and 3 days to obtain a business premises permit from the State Department of Investment Promotion.
While Calabar may not have quite very good stats on the Ease of Doing Business Report 2010 things have improved and the city has its attractive environment as its major pull hence the inclusion in the list.
5. Akwa Ibom
Akwa Ibom is named after the Qua Iboe river and is bordered on the east by Cross River State, on the west by Rivers State and Abia State, and on the South by the Atlantic Ocean and the southern-most tip of Cross River State.
Infrastructure wise, of recent, Akwa Ibom has emerged as an attractive alternative destination for business and investment. With an International airport (the only one in the South South region) it has opened up more avenues for business and investment growth. According to the state government the airport has become busier than they had expected it to be just barely a couple of years after opening.
It has a major seaport with another proposed construction of a world class port Ibaka Seaport at Oron.
At the height of the insecurity in the Nation’s Niger Delta region Akwa Ibom had its fair share of kidnappings and voilence but has gradually returned to relative peace and conducive atmosphere.
It takes about 8 procedures (same as in Sub-Saharan Africa) to start a business in Akwa Ibom and it takes lesser number of days to complete all business registration details than it does in Sub-Saharan Africa. It takes generally three days to get permit for business premises from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.