Transforming African Economies - Factsheet on Nigeria

  • Nigeria’s rural-urban transformation has been atypical. From the 1960s onward, the emergence of the oil and gas sector set Nigeria down a very different path.

  • Nigeria is one of the most urbanized countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Half its people live in cities, compared to a regional average of 30 percent.

  • The share of the population living in urban areas increased from about 19 percent in 1960 to 23 percent in 1981/82, and it rose from 36 percent in 1991 to 49 percent in 2009.

  • A key driver of migration from rural to urban areas was the discovery of oil and gas, which led to the expansion of the service and informal sectors, the decline of agriculture, and an expansion of public administration following the division of Nigeria’s four regions into 36 states between 1967 and 1996.

  • Food imports have increased alongside urbanization. Between 1974 and 1980, the value of these imports shot up from 200 million Naira to 1.3 billion Naira.

  • The migration of working-age men to urban areas has left children, women, and the elderly to tend the fields and has led to rural labor shortages. This has spurred migration within the countryside, as well as income diversification, as rural workers seek seasonal and longer-term jobs.

  • Nearly 18 percent of rural households are engaged in nonfarm wage employment, which generates 7.1 percent of total income, and 40.1 percent engage in some form of nonfarm self-employment, generating 10.8 percent of total income.

  • Agricultural productivity is showing signs of recovery followings decades of decline, but it is happening too slowly to keep up with the demands of rapidly growing urban populations. Large post-harvest losses because of poor handling, storage, processing, transportation infrastructure, and marketing pose a particular challenge.

  • In order to extend the benefits of development to the countryside, Nigeria needs strategies to reduce inequality between sectors and boost both rural productivity and urban employment.

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International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)