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Salaries for expats in Nigeria

Updated 12 Sep 2020

Despite being very much a developing country, Nigeria performs well in global economic surveys. The reason for this is the oil boom of the 1970s, which saw tons of foreign investment pour into the country to facilitate international business relations. As a result, to this day, most worthwhile expat jobs in Nigeria will be found in the oil industry (usually in the employ of a big multinational company); however, there are also plenty of opportunities available in the mining, construction, training, IT, telecommunications and general business sectors.

The most popular expat jobs in Nigeria are in the fields of project management, chartered accountancy, human resources management, business development, IT systems management and engineering. Foreigners will need at least three years of experience in their field to qualify for a high-wage job posting.

Incentives for expats looking for work in Nigeria can average as much as 45 percent above basic pay. Expats should note that these high salaries should be considered in line with the high cost of living in Nigeria and the hardship and safety factors. The safety of foreign workers in Nigeria, particularly in the southern oil-producing Delta region, remains an ongoing concern. Expats should especially consider their options carefully if accepting an opportunity with a smaller company which may not have the same ability to ensure the safety and security of staff as a larger company.

Expat salaries in Nigeria

Expats looking to gauge their salary expectations before relocating to Nigeria should bear in mind three vital considerations:

  • Jobs in Nigeria's oil sector are far more lucrative than in any other sector

  • A large salary will not necessarily translate into large savings due to the surprisingly high cost of living in Nigeria

  • Expats should be wary of scams, fake job postings and the off-centre salaries associated with these fraudulent activities

Saving money in Nigeria

Although the prospect of earning a salary in Nigeria in excess of USD 100,000 a year might seem a mouthwatering opportunity for expats, it's important to realise that this windfall will not necessarily translate into big savings. While the cost of living in Nigeria for items like food, drinks, petrol and cigarettes is quite cheap, the respective costs of secure (gated community) accommodation in Nigeria, comprehensive health insurance, private transport, international schooling and electricity can be shocking; and expats will need to negotiate carefully with their prospective employers when discussing their salary expectations.

If looking to save money in Nigeria, ensure that at least some provision is made in the contract to cover accommodation, health insurance, transport and – if applicable – schooling costs. Although it's becoming less and less of an acceptable card to play when negotiating expat contracts, Nigeria is certainly a bit of a 'hardship destination', and expats should be compensated accordingly.

Scams and fake job offers in Nigeria

Nigeria is the land of the '419 scam' and, unfortunately, these fraudulent practices can crop up long before expats even set foot in the country. When conducting online searches for jobs in Nigeria, job seekers should keep their wits about them: ask themself if the company is reputable (does it have international presence?), and whatever they do, don't pay any money upfront for the 'privilege' of an interview or a recommendation. A good rule to keep in mind: if an offer seems just too good to be true, it more than likely is.

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