Before visiting Nigeria to attend to business matters, you should be aware of a few important factors to ensure that you have a productive and enjoyable trip. Knowing this information will also help you avoid or prepare for frustrating experiences that can occur while visiting Nigeria.
However, as a manager of a multinational firm, preparing for a business trip to Nigeria does not have to be stressful. Understanding Nigeria’s business culture, the appropriate business etiquette to adopt as you meet with professional contacts and businesses in Nigeria should alleviate some stress and prepare you for business trips to Nigeria.
Highlighted in this article are insights that will prepare your mind for your visit to Nigeria.
Immigration: Getting into the Country
When visiting Nigeria for a business trip, you will need to procure a business visa. For a non-resident individual coming into Nigeria to work, there are three main entry permits available: (1) a business visa, (2) a temporary work permit (TWP), and (3) an expatriate quota (EQ). The permit you should acquire is dependent on the nature of your visit and the length of your stay.
A business visa is issued to foreign nationals who will be attending business meetings in Nigeria. The visa is usually valid for 90 days with an option to extend it. Business visas are meant for people who are looking to build partnerships, as well as meet local business professionals and prospective customers, as they build their organization’s presence in Nigeria. However, it is important to note that the business visa is not valid for foreign nationals seeking employment in Nigeria.
To obtain your business visa, complete the online application through the Nigeria Immigration Service’s website. Also, make sure you start this process far enough ahead of time, as the application process can sometimes be tedious. The visa application process can take between 2 – 15 days to complete. Give yourself enough buffer, so make sure you begin this process one or two months before your travel date. You should also consider looking into using a professional visa procurement service to assist you with your visa application.
You will need to submit the following items while undergoing the business visa application process:
- A valid passport (must have an expiration date that’s at least six months after your travel date)
- One recent passport picture
- A letter of invitation from a host country or individual in Nigeria
- A business cover letter from your employer
- Evidence of sufficient funds
- Proof of travel arrangements (including your hotel confirmation)
Another option is a Visa on Arrival (VOA). The Visa on Arrival is a short term-visa to be issued at the port of entry to frequent business travelers, with a maximum validity of 30 days stay in Nigeria. The scheme was introduced as an incentive to attract foreign direct investment into the country and boost tourism. The Visa on Arrival is issued at the port of entry in Nigeria.
To apply for the visa on approval, you need to get an approval letter, pay, arrive at the port of entry and proceed for immigration clearance. There are two methods of obtaining VoA approval letter: applying yourself (by email or in person), or application by your business representative in Nigeria. The application is usually processed and the approval letter issued within 48hrs (2 working days).
Upon arrival at the Port of Entry, proceed to the desk marked ‘Visa on Arrival’ for the issuance of entry Visa. Present the following documents in hard copy at the Port of Entry:
- Visa Approval Letter (Pre-approved visa letter), valid for 14 days from the date of issuance
- Evidence of online payment
- Valid Passport with a minimum of six months validity
- Valid return ticket
- Two recent passports sized photographs
Quality of Life
Before visiting Nigeria, gaining an understanding of the country’s quality of life is a priority. Having even a little bit of insight into how Nigerians live will help you plan your trip and navigate things accordingly upon your arrival. According to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2015 Human Development Report, Nigeria has a human development index (HDI) of 0.527 and is ranked 152 out of 188 countries in regards to the country’s quality of life.
Some of the major contributing factors to Nigeria’s HDI ranking include a low health care infrastructure, a 60% literacy rate for adults 15-years and older, and the fact that approximately 50% of the population lives below the income poverty line of earning $1.90 in income per day. However, this data is not representative of what you will see in Nigeria’s developed urban areas, such as Lagos and Abuja, where more Nigerians are migrating to in search of better opportunities. As it stands currently, 47.8% of the country’s population now live in urban areas.
While visiting Nigeria for business, there is a good chance that you will spend most of your time in the aforementioned cities. Aside from what has been mentioned above as factors that affect the quality of life for many Nigerians, there are two main factors that will affect your quality of life during your visit: (1) an inconsistent supply of electricity and (2) bad roads that cause a notoriously large amount of traffic in Nigerian cities.
Therefore, don’t be too surprised if the electricity goes out where you are unexpectedly and you find that the people around carry on as normal. The reality is that Nigerians are acclimated to frequent power outages and you should follow suit. However, it should also be said that proper establishments usually have backup generators that they use during power outages. When it comes to dealing with the bad road infrastructure and subsequent traffic in Nigerian cities, particularly in Lagos, try to prepare ahead of time for long delays by factoring that into your meeting arrival times.
Cost of Living
Compared to other African countries, the cost of living in Nigeria is high. Meals, transportation, and hotel costs, which will make up the bulk of your costs during your visit, really depend on what state you are in and your primary point of location. In general, the cost of living in urban areas, such as Lagos and Abuja, is significantly higher than in rural areas.
In Lagos, for instance, if you choose to stay in the more luxurious parts of town where the nice hotels and restaurants are located, you should be prepared to pay prices that are comparable to the accommodations and eateries in other developed cities around the world.
Safety is usually the main question on the mind of those visiting Nigeria for the first time.
With news about terrorist activity in certain pockets of the country making headlines across the globe, it is understandable as to why safety would be a primary concern. With that said, it is important to note that the cities and commercial hubs in Nigeria are generally business-friendly and safe.
You should still stay aware of your surroundings at all times, as you would in any unfamiliar city, but as long as you are in a well-known neighborhood and travel with friends or colleagues you should be fine. However, if you do feel uncertain about venturing to a specific section of the city you’re in, you should definitely ask a friend, a colleague, or your hotel attendant about the safety of your destination before heading there.
If you follow the guidelines set out in this article before visiting Nigeria to conduct business, you will definitely put yourself in a prime position to have a safe and beneficial trip.