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Doing Business in Abuja, Nigeria's Capital (Posted 26th January, 2004) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, of Nigeria. Act Decree Number 6, of the Federal Military Government of General Murtala Mohammed, created it on February 5, 1976. With a land mass area of 8,000 square kilometers and over 7 million population, Abuja is reputed to be the fastest growing city in the world.

Geographically, Abuja is located in the center of Nigeria. It is bounded on the north by Kaduna State, on the west by Niger State, on the east and southeast by Nasarawa State and the Southwest by Kogi State. It falls within latitudes 7o 20' North of the Equator and longitudes 6o 45' and 7o 39'. Due to her central location, accessibility to Abuja is limited presently to road and air. By road, Abuja can be accessed through the Benin-Lokoja Road, Jos-Makurdi-Keffi Road, Kaduna-Suleja Road and Bida-Minna-Suleja Road. The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport caters for both domestic and international travelers and it is located some 40 kilometers from the city center.

The Abuja Master Plan: In order to achieve a seamless and well-structured development of the FCT, a Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA was established with the mandate to execute, implement and oversee the capital city. To achieve this lofty goal, the FCDA sought the help of an international consulting agency, International Planning Associates, to draw a Master Plan for the city. This Master Plan was approved for implementation in February 1979.

The Abuja Master Plan covered 250 square kilometers for the envisaged Federal capital city. Its design provided for a four-phase development with the city divided into sectors and further sub-divided into districts. It was projected that each sector would accommodate between 100,000 to 250,000 people. Thus, the city would have a population of 1.6 million people at the end of phase one and two. See land use analysis below:

Category of Land Use Land Budget
% of Total
Government Activity 500.00 ha 1.96
Services 891.00 ha 3.49
Residential 12,486.00 ha 48.97
Light Industries 920.00 ha 3.61
Infrastructure 1.840.00 ha 7.22
Commercial 561.00 ha 2.20
Open Space & Recreational facilities 
8.300 ha 32.55
Total Hectares 25, 498.00 100.00

The Plan was predicated on a linear development pattern to stimulate growth from the city center outwards in two directions and parallel development corridors on both sides, in form of a linear park.

Infrastructure: Infrastructural development of the FCT has reached a feverish peak since the formal movement of the seat of Government on December 12, 1991. Abuja is a construction haven, with facilities like effective transportation system, road network, railway, air transportation, power and water supply, sewage and communication system, housing etc still at varying developmental stages.

Abuja is self-sufficient in terms of infrastructural facilities, compared to other states in the federation. Electricity and water supply are constant; intra-city transport system is quite easy too. Taxis are as cheap as 120 Naira - 150 Naira within the city area, and for the not-too-rich buses are readily available at major motor parks that dot the Districts; like the Berger Park, Wuse, Labour Garage Area 1, Garki, Utako Park among others. The waste disposal operation is very fluid, with each block of flats having large disposal bins, which are regularly collected for disposal. The sewage system is unblocked and quite good.

Abuja records the lowest rate of crime in the country, with patrol cars visible at different road corners. The good state of the roads reduces the incident of car related accidents. In terms of housing, it is grossly inadequate. With the near population explosion presently being experienced in the city, the over 32,000 housing units provided by the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory cannot cater for the need.

Business Terrain: Business activity in the city is at a very slow pace. 70 percent of employment opportunities are located in the public sector domain. The sheer number of Federal Government parastatals, agencies and Ministry buildings, will strike a first time visitor to Abuja. The private sector is led by service industries, which constitute over 25 percent with the remaining 5 percent in other sectors. Private sector initiatives are in the banking, hotel services, airlines, real estate agencies, hospitals, schools, embassies, media establishments, international organizations, Internet cafes, small and medium scale businesses, trading activities etc.

Based on the infrastructural facilities available in Abuja, it is expected that it should be a hub of business activity. But a number of factors militate against the rapid development of organized private sector, OPS. The major factor is the high cost of living in the city center with accommodation being the chief problem. Our research reveals a general high cost of office and residential spaces in the city. For example, to rent a corner shop, which measures 25 square meter (FCDA constructed bungalows that dot major street corners of the city), you need around 300,000 Naira to 350,000 Naira per annum (a minimum of 2 years rents is required) excluding the mandatory 5% agency fee and another 5% legal fee of total rent due collected by the estate agents or agency.

Shopping complexes owned by private individuals and groups vary in sizes and shapes. For example, a complex in the Wuse zone 4 area, lets a space of 63sqm goes for #2.2 million (2 years rent), 76sqm for #2.7 million (2 years rent), 143sqm for #3 million (2 years rent) and 200sqm for #4 million (1 year rent). These spaces have built-in toilet facilities and store rooms. A 50sqm space in Kado estate just outside the city center costs #400,000 per annum. Other smaller spaces - 12' by 10' feet, 18' by 15' feet - range from #200,000 to #250,000 per annum. Office spaces in the Abuja Central Business District are far more expensive. Duplexes and high-rise spaces range from #1.5 million and above per annum.

Investment Opportunities: The Ministry of Federal Capital Territory has provided a number of incentives to lure both local and foreign investors into the city. Some of the policy initiatives are: 1. Fiscal measures in terms of tax deduction and allowances payable by enterprises. 2. Provision of insurance cover for export-oriented industries as specified in Decree number 18 of 1986. 3. Liberal allocation of industrial parks. 4. Provision of well laid-out industrial parks. 5. Provision of requisite infrastructure at demarcated industrial parks.

Investors interested in solid minerals will find them abundantly in Abuja. Marble. Mica, Sand/Ceramic Clay, Wolframite & Tantalite, Iron, Sand, Tin & Lead and Building and crushed stones are in large quantities. Agro and agro-allied ventures are open for investment, with an environment that sustains the production of grains such as maize, sorghum and rice. Livestock and animal husbandry, like poultry, cattle, sheep and goats can be harnessed.

A budding industry is construction; activities in this sector are in a high pitch and will continue for a while. Real estate development especially in the provision of affordable housing units needs private sector input. Other opportunity areas include: service industry, furniture industry, paper industry, electronic & electrical industry, pharmaceutical industry, and intermediate-good industry.

Leisure Sites: A variety of leisure centers dots Abuja. The latest being the Millennium Park recently opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, during the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Abuja, December 2003. Others include the Children Park and Zoo, Aso Rock, Zuma Rock, Strabag Hill, Usuma Dam, Usuma River, Jabi River, Gurara River, Gurara Falls, Abuja Love Gardens, Abuja amusement park etc.

For Abuja to become a delight of private investors the Federal Government needs to invest more in housing provision and other core infrastructural needs. Apart from the constraints posed by space availability, Abuja is not a very expensive place when viewed in its totality.

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