From the get-go, trading has been a part of human existence. It has been happening in Nigeria and every other part of the world for many years, from the time of trade by barter to the advent of monetary systems. This process brought about the creation of markets that have evolved into some of the biggest that there is today in the country.
While many of these markets focus on selling local products and produce, a lot of others are hubs for imported goods from across the world. From tech-related gadgets to clothing and food items, Nigeria has some of the biggest markets that can be found anywhere on the continent. Below is a list of the biggest markets in Nigeria.
1. Alaba International Market (Lagos)
- State Located: Lagos State
- Famous For: Electronics
Located in Ojo local government area of Lagos, Alaba International market is an internationally recognized market in Nigeria. The market was formally known as Mile 2, later Mile 12, and then finally Alaba International Market. It is an open market for the general public, foreign investors, and buyers. The market, which is open from Mondays to Saturdays, operates under market forces and regulatory bodies that ensure proper buying and selling. There are different unions that guide the operations of the type of product one deals on in the market and all dealers are required to belong to a union. All these unions report to the Alaba market governing council.
Alaba market is popularly known for selling and distributing electronics. However, its trade isn’t restricted to electronics as it is a large market that is open for other types of business. With the huge amount of business that goes on in the market each day, Alaba has contributed significantly to the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria. Through the enforcement of the required standards on electronics sold in the market, the government has been able to generate revenue from the products. It aided the increase in the revenue generated through the port authorities, the custom, and local tax authorities.
2. Onitsha Main Market (Anambra)
- State Located: Anambra State
- Famous For: Unlimited Products
This is one of the largest markets in Africa based on the geographical size and content of products. The history of the market dates back to the early sixteenth century when the indigenes of Onitsha migrated to the River Niger bank. Today’s main market was known as the Otu-Nkwo market, a seasonal market that operated only on the Nkwo days based on the Igbo calendar. Presently, the market has emerged to be a daily market that developed from the old trade by barter system into the current trading system.
The Onitsha main market is characterized and known for a lot of business activities. Most of the items sold in the market are imported from foreign countries. However, the market accommodates local products from other parts of the country. Traders in the Onitsha main market are governed by a trade union organization known as the Onitsha Market Traders Association (OMATA). The union is saddled with the responsibility of the welfare of the general market and its traders. As the governing council of the biggest markets in Nigeria, OMATA governing council presides over any dispute that concerns the market and any government agencies.
The Onitsha main market is located in Onitsha North and Onitsha South local government areas of Anambra State in south-eastern Nigeria. The market has a direct road link from Asaba in Delta State, Owerri in Imo State, and Enugu in Enugu State, from which other parts of Nigeria can access the market. As one of the largest markets in Africa and, of course, the largest market in Nigeria, a variety of products are traded here. Products sold in the market include foodstuffs, electronics, clothing and textiles, chemicals, building materials, books, pharmaceuticals, and many more. The market structure is segmented according to products sold to make it easily accessible to users.
The market contributes mainly to the economic growth of the Nigerian economy. The yearly column of trade in the Onitsha main market is estimated to be above $3 billion. Having more than 40% of the above figure as the cash running capital, which circulates within the economy.
3. Balogun Market (Lagos)
- State Located: Lagos State
- Famous For: Imported Goods
This is one of the biggest markets in Nigeria that spreads across the streets of Lagos Island. The market is governed by a committee known as the Caretaker Committee of Balogun Business Association. Balogun market was located initially at the Lagos Island, also known as Ìsàlẹ̀ Èkó in Lagos State. The market was later moved to the Lagos State Trade Fair Complex. The new Balogun market is located along the Lagos-Badagry expressway. The market comprises of different products, which are mostly imported products. The Trade Fair section of the Balogun market segmented the products for sale according to the different types of products, and the lines are named after the 36 states of Nigeria. It is the best place to buy fabrics, jewelry, shoes, wine, and many more other products.
The market originated from a small street trade and emanated into one of the biggest markets in Nigeria and West Africa. History can not explain who started trading in the Balogun market. But the reason for the relocation of the Balogun market to the Lagos Internation Trade Fair Centre is attributed to the harassment and intimidation of the Lagos Island Area Boys on September 13, 2002. The Balogun market promotes peace and unity in the country as the various sectors are named according to the states in Nigeria. This has given rise to an open business space for all tribes in Nigeria who wish to go into business in the market. It also promoted international relationships between Nigerians, foreign investors, and customers. Through its governing council, the market has been able to generate massive revenue from 2004 to date. They generated above N180 million every year until 2011 when they had a robust increase in the generated revenue with N300 million realized. This figure later increased to N330 million yearly. Currently, the Balogun market generates more than N500 million annually.
4. Ariaria International Market (Aba)
- State Located: Abia State
- Famous For: Shoes and Leather Products
This is one of the biggest markets in Nigeria, which covers a massive part of the landmass and contains almost any kind of fashion product one can think of, including handmade shoes, bags, slippers, clothes, and many more. Ariaria is known for its creativity and constant availability of locally manufactured foreign products. The market is governed by the Ariaria International Market Aba Traders Association (AIMATA). The governing union is also registered under the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS). The market is located along Port Harcourt – Enugu expressway in Aba, Abia State. It is so big that it is categorized under three local governments; Aba North Local Government, Aba South Local Government, and Osisioma Local Government.
Initially, the Ariaria market was known for its shoemaking. The market has experienced shoemakers who are able to produce shoes of high foreign quality and design. As the market began to gain business growth, it expanded into textiles and clothing materials of all kinds. However, the market is not restricted to trades on shoes and cloth materials alone as several other things can be gotten in the market.
The Ariaria International Market Aba has a tremendous cultural representation of the entire Igbo tribe. It portrays the creative mind of the Igbos, which is evident in the wear and footwear produced in the market. It is also a strong revenue-generating place for the state government as revenue from over 7,000 structured shops to 40,000 stores are gotten from the market every month.
5. Ladipo Market (Lagos)
- State Located: Lagos State
- Famous For: Auto Spare parts
Ladipo Market is recognized as an international auto parts market. This market has over the years received tremendous growth because of the state of the Nigerian transport system. For this reason, vehicles will constantly need spare parts replacement. The market is characterized by affordable good spare parts and is governed by the Ladipo Central Executive Auto Dealers Association (LCEADA). It is noteworthy that the market is also known as the Aguiyi Ironsi International Market and also the China of Africa. The market got its name from the street it is located in, which is Ladipo street, Papa Ajao in Mushin Local Government Area, Lagos.
Ladipo is, however, not restricted to the sale of spare parts but accommodates other products like imported cars, televisions, phones, computers, laptops, generators, and many other items. The local and state government generates revenue from the Ladipo market through the union. The generated revenue is adjusted to the internally generated revenue of the state, which is part of the Gross Domestic Products of the economy of any government. The revenue generated is from tenement rates paid on shops and parking lots in the market.
6. Zaki Biam International Yam Market (Benue)
- State Located: Benue State
- Famous For: Yam
Benue State is popularly known as the food basket of the nation. It harbors one of the biggest markets in Nigeria that is based on the trading of yam. In the market are thousands of heaped yams ready for sale, and outside the market are hundreds of trucks ready to convey the yams to different parts of the country. It is one of the biggest yam markets in Nigeria with the cheapest price for resellers and also for direct consumers. The market also gives employment to hundreds of youths whose jobs are to convey the yams from the market to the trucks.
The Zaki Biam yam market is responsible for more than 70 percent of yam sales in Nigeria. It is located along the Zaki Ibiam-Dangoa road, which is in the Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State. The market is globally and locally known for the trade of the Benue State cultivated yam. There are different yam species that can be found in the market. They include Iyo, Nwopoko, Sampaper, Epe, Adaka, Mbana, Oku yam, and many more.
7. Oil Mill Market (Port Harcourt)
- State Located: Rivers State
- Famous For: Cassava in tuber and famented
The Oil Mill market is always very busy as its products are gotten straight from the farm. The market, which is also called Rumukurushi Market, is a weekly market that operates on Wednesdays. Located at the Rumuchorlu Community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, the market is widely known for its large trade in Cassava, popularly known as Akpakpuru in Rivers State. The product appears both in tubers and in fermented form. The market is not restricted to this product as one could also find varieties of vegetables, oil, potatoes, etc.
The market came into existence immediately after the Nigerian civil war. It was formally known as the Nnempi Market. People within and outside Rivers State rally at the Nnempi market for the Wednesday trade. Because of the inflow of traders from Aba, Owerri, Onitsha, Akwa Ibom, and Umuahia, the market union finds it very easy to generate revenue from the traders. This revenue is used to provide basic needs of the market and also for the development of the state economy.
8. Bodija Market (Ibadan)
- State Located: Oyo State
- Famous For: Foodstuff
Mostly foodstuffs can be found in the Bodija market that is governed by the Bodija Market Traders Association, a body saddled with the responsibility of monitoring payments due to the government. They do not collect revenue on behalf of the government; instead, they work as a task force for traders. Bodija market is located in Ibadan North Local Government Area of Oyo State, close to the Oyo-Ogbomosho Illorin interstate road network in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. The market is a vast market that accommodates any kind of foodstuff and other products for trade. It is segmented according to sections of like products to make it easily accessible for customers.
The origin of the market dates back to 1987 when it was established due to the development and overflow of the Orita Merin foodstuff market. The then military government had no option but to move the location of the overflowing Orita Merin foodstuff market to the present Bodija market. The cattle sellers from Sango were also moved to the Bodija marketplace. Over the years, the market has contributed to over 15 percent of the state’s internally generated revenue. Traders are subjected to pay for their business premises in government-designated accounts and present the teller to the market task force for proper documentation.
9. Kasuwar Kanti Kwari Market (Kano)
- State Located: Kano State
- Famous For: Textile materials
The Kasuwar Kwari Market is located in the Northern part of the country. It is one of the oldest markets in the North and West African sub-region as it was established in the pre-colonial era. The market is located along the unity road towards Kofar Mata in Fagge Local Government Area of Kano State, Nigeria. Kasuwar Kwari is popularly known for the making and selling of different types of textile materials. It is mostly known for its quality tie and dye textile materials that can be gotten at an affordable price. Customers access this market from all parts of the country.
Kasuwar Kanti Kwari Market contributed tremendously to the acknowledgment of Kano State as the commercial hub of the Northern part of the country. The market generates revenue which contributes to the internally generated revenue of the state. The market also contributes a lot to human capacity development by engaging and employing thousands of Nigerians.
10. Computer Village (Lagos)
- State Located: Lagos State
- Famous For: Technology Related Items
Computer village is designated for selling computers and other electronics/technology-related devices. It is one of the biggest ICT gadgets markets in Africa. The market is governed by the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN). It is located at Otigba community in Ikeja Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Initially, only computer-related items were sold in the market. However, the introduction of GSM in the early 2000s led to the introduction of phones and other gadgets to the market. Computer village reportedly generates more than $1.5 billion annually to the Lagos State government. It also caters for the engagement of the nation’s youth towards developing the nation’s human capacity development.