Feb 05 - It's one of the MINT countries which are supposed to be replacing the BRICs as key nations to invest in. It's also challenging South Africa as the top African economy. Ciara Sutton looks at Nigeria's potential.
Luxury homes, yachts and restaurants - this isn't Monaco it's Lagos, Nigeria. Champagne and single-malt whiskey are the drinks of choice of those enjoying the African nation's rapid economic growth. Felix Enwemadu is Nigeria's manager at the world's biggest distilled drinks firm Diageo. SOUNDBITE) (English) FELIX ENWEMADU, GENERAL MANAGER, DIAGEO BRANDS NIGERIA, SAYING: "About say three to four percent of the population can afford luxury goods so these are the guys and ladies who want to invest behind the range rovers can afford a Ciroc in the outlets on a week on week basis so they will be about three to four percent of the population." The majority of Nigeria's 160 million people still live on less than 2 dollars a day and many have no access to clean water. Youth unemployment is also a problem. The middle class may be growing but they are still very much the minority, says financial analyst Bismarck Rewane. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BISMARCK REWANE, FINANCIAL ANALYST, SAYING: "I would say that the Nigerians who are living above the poverty line have increased in number but the Nigerians who can qualify as the middle class or bourgeoisie who have a major stake in the society are not growing as fast as is envisaged." Luxury properties are changing the urban landscape, with the construction and real estate sectors growing at double figure rates. The country overall saw growth of around 7% last year - a figure most in Europe can only dream of. But many investors don't believe there's enough variety of opportunity - crude oil remains the country's main export. Mike Ingram is from BGC. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MIKE INGRAM, MARKET STRATEGIST, BGC, SAYING: "Anybody looking into it has to do a lot of due diligence on the individual companies, the individual investment opportunities. I think at the moment a lot of the best investment opportunities in country's such as Nigeria are actually to be found in the areas such as project finance, venture capitals and private equity." There are entrepreneurs enjoying new opportunities. Taofick Okoya sells Nigerian dolls. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TAOFEEK OKOYA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FICO SOLUTIONS SAYING: "When I got to the store, I noticed that all the dolls that were there were white and you know, some, the way they were presented was not very child friendly, and for some reason, that was when it hit me that we actually didn't have black dolls in our stores" There are plenty of challenges too. Corruption is rife and Islamic extremism is adding to the political instability. With elections next year that could increase. A good opportunity perhaps for another Nigerian entrepreneur Proforce makes luxury armoured vehicles for the wealthy elite.