Lagos is Nigeria’s most populous city and one of the fastest growing in the world. It is the economic hub of the country and the major financial center for all of Africa. It has the fourth-highest GDP in the continent and houses one of its largest and busiest seaports.
Nobody knows exactly how many people live in Lagos, but everyone agrees on one thing – Nigeria’s biggest city is growing at a terrifying rate.
As of the year 2020, the UN says the population is 14 million. The Lagos State government thinks it’s nearer 21 million, as rural Nigerians are drawn by the hope of a better life to the mega-city
By 2050 Nigeria will have twice the population, it has today, more than half will live in cities, and about 60% of them will be under 25.
While Lagos is by far the largest city in Nigeria, security concerns, rural poverty, and hopes for greater economic opportunity are driving people in other parts of the country.
Every week tens of thousands of people arrive in Lagos, heading to neighborhoods where friends and relatives have come before – many end up in the slums.
Many of the slums’ huts are on stilts, others are just basic shacks shoddily built on the unstable ground of trodden-down rubbish dumps, because housing is in high demand in Lagos.
But at least there are opportunities in the city. So, people will keep coming – from other towns and lesser cities, and from remote rural communities. In fact, Lagos has become Nigeria’s center of gravity.
So, what exactly are the factors behind the rapid growth of the Lagos population?
CANDIID ONLINE highlights the following five points as to why the population of Lagos may never stop growing:
1. Job opportunities:
Economic activities in the rural parts of Nigeria, especially farming have undergone massive changes in recent decades. Increased use of machinery has forced people out of work, and changes to farming have forced people with small farms to sell up to larger land owners and migrate to urban Lagos, where there are job opportunities in both the service and the manufacturing industries which pay higher wages.
2. Boko Haram insurgency/security concerns
Boko Haram, a terrorist organization, have created instability in the North of Nigeria. And, the insecurity in the Middlebelt region caused by farmers – herders clashes have also affected the prosperity of the Northern part of the country adversely.
So, as long as the economy of Lagos remains stable and continues to boom, the city will continue to witness an influx of people from the troubled North who are interested in starting life anew and creating new wealth for themselves.
Lagos is the center of much of what is dynamic and vibrant about Nigeria. It is the home of Nollywood, a homegrown film industry that is widely influential in Africa and spreading around the world. It is also the center of the music business and the creative arts industry in Nigeria. The Lagos entertainment hub exercises a powerful spiritual influence and attraction to people who reside in other parts of the country.
New industries spring up every day in Lagos, and the prosperity of these industries, in a way, are tied to how open the City is for visitors.
Therefore, these new industries make deliberate efforts to ease the movement of people into Lagos because of the role they will always have to play in their success.
5. Natural factors
The population of Lagos is increasing naturally, with significantly more births than deaths every year. Lagos also has a very young population, so natural increase will continue to add population every year. In fact, over half of the population in Lagos is under the age of 25!
In the decade between 2007 and 2017, Nigeria’s urban dwellers increased from 41 percent of the population to about 50 percent. In 2019, there were 7 cities with a population of one million or more, 80 with a population ranging between one hundred thousand and one million, and 248 with a population between ten thousand and one hundred thousand.
But much of this urbanization is unplanned and chaotic. The realities of life in Nigerian cities are hard.
In Lagos, about two of every three people live in a slum. Less than 10 percent of residents have access to piped water (for those that do, it is often riddled with sediment and unsafe to drink), forcing urban households to purchase water from vendors at up to three times the normal price charged by Lagos state. Only six percent of urban households has a flushing toilet that is connected to a sewage system.
But life goes on. For all its shortcomings, in Lagos, there are few beggars; everyone has a hustle. Vendors working the city’s ubiquitous traffic jams (“go slows”) sell everything from mops and buckets to juju materials to the complete works of Shakespeare. Others provide services, such as washing the feet of the market ladies several times a day.
The issue that Lagos has is that despite its incredible wealth by Nigerian standards, it still has a huge number of people living in shanty towns or slums, together with all of the associated environmental and social problems these areas have.