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Money in Lagos

So, money, the root of Naija’s evils and successes… It became evident very quickly after I arrived that I had not brought enough hard cash in USD. So, I had to set off on a quest to find out what were the best ways to bring money from the US. Many will have folks carry cash for them when coming. Some have domiciliary accounts which allow you to withdraw USD from Nigerian banks while in Nigeria if you wire transfer to the Naija account.

As of the time of this writing, the BMR (Black Market Rate) is 352 Naira to 1 USD and the BR (Bank Rate) is 282 Naira to 1 USD. If you’re coming from a USD point of view then of course you want your money at black market rates because you get more naira for your dollar. The current rate might sound like a great deal, but with most of the “afropolitan” type of services and products found in Lekki and VI, you’re looking a an almost one to one value. On the Mainland and with traditional homegrown products it’s definitely cheaper from a USD point of view.

Some things are cheaper on the Island, like I got some cashew nut mylk at a fancy ice cream shop for the equivalent of $6. It would’ve been a bit more in the states. Yam and egg with palm wine at Terra Kulture was about 3k, which is under $10. Not a likely price in BK.

But most things are about the same. It is said that Lekki and VI are operating strictly on US prices. I put my daughter in camp which ended up being about $140 per week, which is straight up Brooklyn pricing. God save me!

But of course, Lekki and VI are the equivalent of Manhattan and the Upper East Side in NY. Everything here is more expensive as it caters to the one percent. But of course, as with any urban metropolis, you have your street vendors who sell to you at lower prices unless you look fancy and JJC enough for them to rip you off a bit.

To fill up the tank on my mid-size car cost about 6k naira. That’s about 18 ish bucks. Nice deal right? Well the unlimited wifi plan (there’s no real broadband service here even for the posh— though there are very expensive options for businesses — MTN HiNet I hear, will find out the price) is almost 20k per month. This is with Smile, which the friend who got here before me told me was the most reliable wifi (and it seems to be so far). That comes out to about 54USD at BMR and 67USD at bank rates.

More money talk later!



About Lolade

Lolade is a Gates Cambridge Scholar, starting her PhD in Sociology with the 2019 class. She recently graduated with her MA in African Studies [Sociology discipline] from Yale University where she researched ethnic identity formation among Nigerian immigrants in New York, Tokyo and Mumbai. She is the author of 'Market of Dreams' a radical poetry collection about love and freedom. She obsesses over indigenous textiles, cultural preservation and innovation, and intimately connecting the African Diaspora.

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