Nigeria Goes To The Mall

This article was culled from the New York Times

 Groups of children wandered inside, wide-eyed at the plenty. Teenagers and adults took selfies and group photos, raving about the convenience, the security, the leisure and, not least, the air-conditioning, so silent, omnipresent and soothing.

Some had stepped inside places like this during trips to the United States, Europe or even Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, which got its first one just a couple of years ago.

Others were “Johnny-Just-Come” first-time visitors, standing confused before sensor-activated doors. They drew smiles from veterans who had already been once or twice to the newest and biggest attraction in this Nigerian city in recent memory: a gleaming shopping mall.

“I’m very, very, very excited,” said John Monday, who had traveled nearly 200 miles to visit the mall here on a recent Saturday afternoon, as a friend took a photo of him posing in front of a supermarket. “A middle-class person can come into this mall and feel a sense of belonging.”

Delta Mall opened here last spring, bringing to about a dozen the number of Western-style shopping malls catering to 180 million people in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. Many enclosed malls, anchored by supermarkets and big box stores, with other tenants lining long hallways, may be struggling in the United States. But in Nigeria, which has Africa’s biggest economy and is projected to overtake the United States as the world’s third-most populous nation by 2050, malls are just taking off.

The emergence of malls — and mall culture — in Nigeria reflects broad trends on the continent, including a growing middle class with spending power and the rapid expansion of cities like Warri that are little known outside the region.

As in America, malls in Nigeria have quickly become hangouts for the young and destinations for families. Their rarity also imbue a sense of exclusivity.



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