Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The malling of Nigeria

The dynamism of Nigeria is not just in its growing population, it's also in its growing middle class. How will that change politics?

Nigeria Goes to the Mall
Groups of children wandered inside, wide-eyed at the plenty…

Some had stepped inside places like this during trips to the United States…
It's not Target, it's ShopRite
Others were “Johnny-Just-Come” first-time visitors, standing confused before sensor-activated doors. They drew smiles from veterans who had already been once or twice to the newest and biggest attraction in this Nigerian city in recent memory: a gleaming shopping mall.

Delta Mall opened [in Warri] last spring… Many enclosed malls, anchored by supermarkets and big box stores… may be struggling in the United States. But in Nigeria, which has Africa’s biggest economy and is projected to overtake the United States as the world’s third-most populous nation by 2050, malls are just taking off. ..

The emergence of malls… in Nigeria reflects broad trends on the continent, including a growing middle class with spending power and the rapid expansion of cities like Warri that are little known outside the region…

The malls, like the new cars that have replaced the beat-up [used cars] on Nigerian roads, provide visible confirmation that, despite the country’s many problems, life has become materially better for many in recent years. Besides shops, the malls have brought leisure activities, like going to the movies and dining at food courts…

One of the main cities in Nigeria’s oil-producing region, Warri has grown rapidly in recent years, like many other medium-size cities in the country. New housing developments are clustered on the outskirts…

Informal shops, individually run, are still thriving. Street hawkers sell food, clothes and home appliances on sidewalks, or wherever they can find a captive audience, like Nigeria’s epic traffic jams, known as go-slows. The hawkers often compete directly with the malls, selling their wares to people driving into parking lots…

But to other businessmen, like Matthew Asegiemhe, the future lies in the mall. Since opening a clothing store, Button Up, in the city five years ago, he has seen sales rise 15 percent to 20 percent each year, and decided to open a branch in the mall...

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