The attractive challenges of Lagos
by Maria Auxiliadora Figueiredo
Lagos is a state in Nigeria that occupies a territory smaller than the Brazilian Federal District, boasting a GDP of about 90 billion dollars, similar to Rio Grande do Sul State. It is considered as the seventh best economy in Africa, only exceeded by Nigeria itself, as well as South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Angola, and Algeria.
Lagos Chamber of Industry and Commerce — LCCI is the largest business organization in the country. It is estimated that its 1,800 members hold 60% of the industrial production, 65% of the commerce, and 75% of the financial services in Nigeria.
Lagos presents inconveniences for eventual investors — and not only regarding taxes. The urban infrastructure is deficit in transportation and supplying electrical power, water, and sewage utilities. There is even a shortage of specialized labor, in spite of its estimated population of 22 million.
Such challenges are common to investors in any foreign country. There is no problem in Lagos that may interfere with the supply of goods and services from Brazilian companies.
Even in the XX century, the “Brazilian Quarter” on the Island of Lagos was considered as the largest Brazilian architectural conjunct overseas. As it was assigned as housing for former slaves who had returned from Brazil in the XIX century, this neighborhood nowadays has lost its characterization and in a situation of complete abandonment by the local authorities. There are still some large houses: the “Casa da Água“(Water House), for example and it became known in Brazil due to a novel writing by Antônio Olinto, and it remains intact, inhabited nowadays by a Brazilian descendant.
The Carnival in Lagos, held on a holiday on December 26th named Boxing Day, it must have originated from a Festival of Kings. The “Bumba-Meu-Boi” (Brazilian folklore theatrical presentation) is one of the main attractions. In the center of the island you can buy black beans, in Portuguese named “feijão¨, and one of the famous treats, the residents call “mingau” (porridge). In funerals in that neighborhood, the Imperial passport of Brazil is displayed, representing the name of the ancestor who returned to Nigeria.
The Nigerians who are descendants from Brazil are proud of that. From Brazil, however, they only conserve the memory remaining from oral tradition and a few two-story houses.
*Maria Auxiliadora Figueiredo is general-consul of Brazil in Lagos