Business culture

Nigeria, with over 180 million inhabitants  is the most populous African country and 8th largest in the world. It has the strongest economy in Africa. The country operates a democratic government which has remained uninterrupted in the last 20 years. As a founding member of several economic blocs and international organizations, Nigeria is therefore a regional power house.


Do’s and Don’ts

  1. A hand shake is the acceptable form of greeting. However, you may find people bowing to their superiors and the elderly as a sign of respect. Do not be surprised when a Nigerian exporter takes a bow during the greeting.
  2. Greetings should always include some interest in your acquaintances, family and health. A common conversation opener: “how was your night”? It is just a polite sign of interest in your well being.
  3. You may be treated to the Nigerian hospitality with your host paying the bill. Do not feel uncomfortable, but remember to appreciate the gesture.
  4. The left hand rules apply here. Do not take or give anything with the left hand, because it might be perceived as disrespectful.
  5. In timing, Nigerians are flexible due to its peculiar environment. Stay relaxed, be prepared and do not feel frustrated if appointments are delayed.
  6. Complimentary remarks are appreciated, but be cautious and moderate.


Business communication

Communicating is generally very easy in Nigeria. English is the official written and spoken language. In addition, there are 3 major languages (Hausa, Igbo & Yoruba). “Pidgin” English is also spoken. It is widely accepted to communicate in a direct manner. Be clear and specific in agreements and avoid ambiguity. Make sure that the contractual conditions for both parties have been determined and that they are legally valid.

In an informal setting it might be easier to get the information you are looking for. Therefore, informal meetings are good for doing business and recommended to international buyers.



Be mindful of hierarchy in your business meetings. Identify the decision maker and endeavour to identify different job positions and their roles. Start talking directly to Nigerians by using their title, as they like formalities.



There are three major religious practices in Nigeria (Christianity, Islam & African Traditional Religion). Don’t be alarmed talking about religion with Nigerian people. You can be open minded in your business dealings. In public, be careful with alcohol in certain areas because of the Islamic culture especially in the Northern states.


Are you planning to visit Nigeria and looking for more information on business culture? Contact us and find out how we can be of support!