These 7 cities control 80% of the Nigerian Economy

Nigeria is a country made up of over 200 million people, 36 states and a capital territory. Lately, the country has attracted the attention of the world for some of the most infamous reasons from poverty, to a growing number of out-of-school children, and terrorism, to mention a few. 

Nonetheless, despite the many pitfalls faced by Nigeria, there are some gains achieved over the years since independence, especially in the area of the economy. Aside from being the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria also takes the lead in varying industries in Africa and arguably the world. 

What is most unique about the Nigerian economy to investors is the concentration of various economic activities in a few cities, allowing investors to start up strong and expand gradually over the country. This article explores the top 10 cities controlling 90% of the country’s economy and how.

7 Cities Controlling the economy of Nigeria

1. Lagos

Lagos city takes the number one spot when it comes to Nigeria’s economy. It is argued that aside from agriculture, petroleum and manufacturing, Lagos takes the lead in all sectors. The city takes the overall lead in the technology sector controlling over 70% of Nigeria’s technology startup locations. Lagos was also named the startup capital of Africa beating Nairobi to clinch the title. 

The economy of Lagos is largely serviced based, nonetheless, Lagos also controls the largest exports of consumable goods from the country and the largest imports of consumable and non-consumable goods in Nigeria. 

2. Abuja

The Nigerian capital is another city that grabs the gains of the country’s economic successes. With arguably some of the best infrastructures in the country, the city has become a haven for economic activities. Abuja dominates is Nigeria’s second go-to city for investment, just behind Lagos. Over 60% of companies in Lagos have satellite offices in the city.

Abuja is home to over 70% of the Nigerian government agencies’ headquarters, it’s also home to the headquarters of most embassies and foreign missions. The city’s economy is mostly moved by political attraction. Nonetheless, Abuja makes it to the list as Nigeria’s second most economically vibrant city because the city ranks in finishing top three in varying sectors, including startups, services, law firms, transportation etc.

3. Kano

Making it to third place is Kano. The city is mostly in the news for the worse things possible, nonetheless, the economy of the city cannot be overemphasized. Kano city is Nigeria’s second most populated city with over 4 million people. The city also brags about having a strong informal and formal service-based economy. Kano is a highly diversified economy with inputs in manufacturing, trade, services, transportation, agriculture and more. 

Kano city is home to some of the largest traders of livestock and agricultural produce in Nigeria and is also the country’s biggest trade route to northwest African countries like Niger, Mali and Chad. The city’s growth rate is also expected to be accelerated following the construction of the Kano Economic City.

4. Port-Harcourt

The city of Port-Harcourt is s jewel of the Nigerian nation. The city stands as the most economically vibrant city in the eastern right of the country. The economy of Port-Harcourt is largely influenced by petroleum, the city is home to most of the oil and gas companies in Nigeria, especially companies dealing in the upstream sector. Thousands of Nigerians flock to the city in search of opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

Over the years, Port-Harcourt has grown from a petroleum city to a service-based city, dragging third place for the most city to invest in Nigeria, especially in the formal sector. The city of Port-Harcourt comes fourth on the list because of its strong influence in the oil and gas industry.

5. Onitsha

The issues brought on by unplanned urban growth have plagued Onitsha for more than a decade. These issues have drawn the attention of the global community which has recognized Onitsha’s impressive legacy, which makes it a significant religious, commercial, and academic centre while lamenting its decline as a result of persistent poor infrastructure and the ensuing breakdown of land use management, planning, and security systems.

The main entry point for goods and traders coming upstream from the Niger River delta and those going downstream from towns along the Niger and Benue rivers continues to be Onitsha. Roads connect Enugu and Owerri to the city, and the 1,404-meter bridge from Asaba across the Niger River offers Onitsha a direct road connection to Benin City and Lagos.

Printing, saw-milling, services, trade activities, manufacturing and tyre retreading are some of the industries in Onitsha.

6. Ikeja

The capital of Lagos comes at number six on the list. The once suburb now city has created a separate name for itself that cannot be mixed with the Lagos city’s success. Ikeja is the hub for manufacturing in Lagos and arguably comes among the top three manufacturing hubs in the country. 

One of Nigeria’s largest cotton textile plants can be found in the city’s industrial estate, along with a wool textile plant. Other factories in Ikeja produce goods for the lighting industry, cosmetics, footwear, pharmaceuticals, plastics, paper and cork products, ceramics, and paints.

The city is home to several food processing facilities and the Guinness brewery. Steel products, trailer-truck tanks, wire, and aluminium are some of the heavy industries in and around Ikeja. 

7. Aba

One of Nigeria’s most industrialized cities is Aba, which once had thriving glass, textile, brewing, shoe, and food processing industries. Although on a smaller scale now, Aba still has manufacturing operations in the areas of industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, foundries, cable, and wire.

Aba exports leather goods like bags and shoes. The city takes the top spot for Nigeria’s largest exporter of non-consumable (non-petroleum) goods. The city was also said to be the home of the largest concentration of small, and medium-scale industrial enterprises in West Africa. 

Aba is one of the fastest-growing industrial and economic cities in Nigeria due to its strategic location among the major commercial cities of the southeast and coastal cities of the south-south with operational, well-connected airports. 

Aba experiences a significant influx of importers, exporters, and investors from both inside and outside the nation. As a result, the city’s transportation industry has grown significantly. With the construction of a new power plant by the government, the city will soon return to its previous level of industrialization. Nonetheless, it makes it to the seventh spot on our list. 


Nigeria is filled with various cities that are economically vibrant. Other cities to watch out for are Ibadan, Kaduna, Abeokuta, Warri, Owerri, Enugu, Asaba, Ilorin and a host of others. 

In 2013, the Central Bank’s Deputy Governor, Mr Tunde Lemo disclosed that the Federal capital territory and six other states controlled 90% of Nigeria’s banking transactions. These states were Lagos (Lagos city and Ikeja), Kano (Kano city), Rivers (Port-Harcourt), Anambra (Onitsha), Abia (Aba) and Ogun. 

This announcement guided the research for this work, the research further went into a discourse of the overall employment and spread of wealth among the populace of these cities and the general dominance of these cities in major economic activities in Nigeria as of 2022.

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Richard Okoroafor

Richard Okoroafor

Richard is a brilliant legal content writer who doubles as a finance lawyer. He brings his wealth of legal knowledge in corporate commercial transactions to bear, offering the best value that exceeds expectations.

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