“In Nigeria, The Hustle that Makes Lagos Bustle”
The Christian Science Monitor, June 28, 2015
“All of Lagos is a mobile supermarket. Informal stalls selling soccer jerseys, mangoes, and iPhone cables sprout between its buildings like plants growing in the cracks of a rock – improbable and tenacious. Meanwhile, hawkers weave through the notoriously gridlocked traffic carrying boxer shorts and kiddie pools, bibles and portraits of the new president, Muhammadu Buhari. … Each year, about 600,000 new people arrive in this city – the continent’s largest – from across West Africa, nearly all of them economic migrants. That is more than half a million people wound tightly by the possibility that they can make a better life than the one they have now, crowding into a city where informal transactions account for about two-thirds of the economy and salaried jobs are few and far between. That collision demands an almost extraordinary level of imagination from new arrivals. If you want a job in Lagos the chances are you’ll have to invent it yourself. … This is the double-edged sword of a city like Lagos, whose entrepreneurial and radically self-sufficient ethos can seem at times either inspiring or nefarious – and occasionally both at once. … Whether that is the best way for a city to survive seems an academic question. It is simply how Lagos is. It has grown too quickly, too haphazardly, against the backdrop of a wildly inattentive state, to turn itself around now. Half a century ago, 300,000 people lived here. Now, some 20 million do. It is among the world’s largest cities, and for whatever challenges living here might present, its growth shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.”
Quickie analysis: An interesting piece on Africa’s largest city.