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Problems jostle with promise in bullish Nigeria

Africa is the last frontier. There is nowhere attracting more pioneers than Nigeria. With its large and innovative workforce, its attractions are obvious. But is it safe as an investment? Rupert Wright reports from Lagos.

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ON THE FACE of it, little is going right in Nigeria. Production of oil, the country’s main foreign exchange earner, has been hit by political uncertainty and violence in the Niger delta. Onshore production is said to have dropped by 600,000 barrels a day, with a further 300,000 barrels a day going missing and unaccounted for. This year already, more than 130 expatriate workers have been snatched and held hostage. At a going rate of $200,000 for a European – more for an American, less for an Indian or Indonesian – it’s good business. As a result, oil companies are finding it hard to recruit workers, or are having to boost their salaries.

Nigeria’s deputy president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, is from the delta, but he seems unable to find solutions to the crisis. Many of the oil workers have now moved up to Lagos, which has led to the gangs following them, leading to increased instability and tension in the city. It is advisable not to be on the roads after 8pm.

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