4.2.1 Social and Economic Opportunities of living in Lagos
Why do people want to move to Lagos?
Lagos is a megacity struggling to cope with massive population growth (3.1 million added in just 8 years!). Urbanisation has led to millions of people leaving the rural areas to come in search for a better quality of life in Lagos. However, at times the resources and infrastructure cannot keep up- , the electricity supply cuts out, the roads are congested, basic sewage works cannot cope, and there are high crime rates. Despite these problems people are still moving to Lagos in their thousands in the process of rural to urban migration: Why?
There are better employment opportunities with higher pay and of a wider range in Lagos, that aren’t largely in the primary industry as found in rural areas e.g. farming. Jobs are available here that are not available in many other places in Nigeria, even the capital Abuja. Tertiary jobs such as lawyers, computing, finance and business are in demand, allowing people to earn a significantly better wage in the formal sector, paying taxes and being able to send money home. It is also possible to work in the informal sector, for example as a street vendor or recycling waste, that does not pay tax, but still allows people to earn more than previously. More economic reasons can be seen on page 7.
Health care - In Nigeria the health care facilities in rural areas are very poor, overcrowded or difficult to access. Often the most vulnerable, so mainly children and the elderly, will die from curable diseases simply because they cannot access the health care. Nigerians can often view cities as places where they can access basic health care services which will increase their life expectancy. You do need to be able to pay for medicines however, and it is known for the poor to get stuck in hospital even when better as they cannot afford to pay their medical bills.
Education - The ability to provide children with a better education is a massive pull factor to Lagos. There are more schools and universities in Lagos than other areas, there are over 10 universities in Lagos state alone! Education is seen as a passport out of poverty, and allows people to be able to get into industries such as finance, film, fashion, business. Nollywood is the Nigerian film industry, and it is located in Lagos.
Transport - Lagos is investing in the Lagos Rail Mass Transit System. It was announced in 2008 and phase 1 should open in 2022. There are already taxis and public buses. Congestion remains a big problem however.
Electricity - People in Lagos have better access to electricity than in rural areas. Although the electricity supply is in short supply and it can cut out, it is in a much better state than in rural areas who may struggle to find electricity at all in some places. Two new power stations are planned to reduce the city’s shortage of electricity and to light the streets at night. The wealthiest households and businesses rely on generators to provide power when the network fails.
Water supply - Water supply is also unreliable, with only the wealthiest homes having a piped water supply. However, others use public taps and boreholes or buy their water from street vendors. In rural areas people could be walking miles to source fresh water to drink.
Informal Economy in Lagos
Some of the jobs in Lagos are in the formal economy. These jobs are registered jobs where the workers’ pay taxes to the government and the companies have a legal obligation to protect their workers, offer holidays and pay regular wages.
aken by Zouzou Wizman CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=128636
However, many of the jobs in Lagos are also found in the informal economy. Here there is no minimum wage, the workers are unlikely to pay taxes, have no holiday rights and often work in dangerous or hazardous conditions. Jobs include rag picking, breaking up and recycling old electronic products, recycling waste, making pottery, selling items on the street etc. The key to many these jobs is that they cost little to set up, use simple tools and are labour intensive (involve lots of human work).
Despite the difficulties of the informal industry, these industries offer poor often uneducated people a foothold in the city. They can earn money and start to improve their quality of life from that point. Slums such as Makoko has the following positives for people
1. Informal shopping areas exist where it is possible to buy anything you might need.
2. Rooms within houses have multiple functions, including living, working and sleeping. Many daily chores are done in social spheres because people live close to one another. This helps to generate a sense of community.
3. Many people have a job in the slum and work LOCALLY
4. The slum offers a first foothold to living in the megacity.
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