by Azeezat Fadekemi Sulaiman
Time to move back home perhaps?
You know that awkward moment when your cousin from home arrives to spend a week’s holiday in London and asks for you to suggest some cool places to shop? You’d probably rattle off a list including Topshop, River Island, H&M and if you’re feeling super cool, you might even suggest Karen Millen or House of Fraser.
You jaw might drop when said cousin snubs your suggestions and asks you for where the nearest Louis Vuitton, Dior or even Gucci shop is and then YOUR jaw will drop.
It’s not totally new to us UK-based Africans that our home based friends and relatives have more spending power than we do and this has now been confirmed by a new report released today by Beauchamp estates, a high-end property company.
The report featured in today’s Daily Mail states that Nigerian Oligarchs accounted for £250 Million in investments in the capital in the last three years with super rich Oligarchs from our dear country forking out up to £15 million for a house in exclusive locations like Mayfair, Belgravia and Knightsbridge.
It’s not just Nigerians flocking to invest in London’s stable property market, but the recent rise in middle class wealth in other West African countries like Ghana, Congo, Cameroon and Gabon has resulted in an increase of the African contribution from 2% to 5% in recent years.
It’s not hard to imagine which Nigerians the report refers to, but we can all assume that in addition to the thousands of corrupt politicians in Nigeria, self-made millionaires like Folorunsho Alakija, Aliko Dangote and the likes have made a handsome contribution to London’s housing market.
Is this something we should be happy about? Or more reason for us to cry foul as 90% of Nigerians still live below the property line according to UN reports?
Previous reports place Nigerian contribution to the UK tourism economy in second place, only after the Chinese. We apparently (or rather our friends and family visiting the UK), typically spend up to £600 per transaction during their visits to the UK- thanks to the growing middle class in Nigeria fuelled by high paying jobs in Oil and gas, banking and telecoms.
So if things are so good at home, that many Nigerians can not only afford to visit the UK and other exotic destinations, but also spend an amount while shopping that their UK-based counterparts spend in 3 months, why are so many people still trying their damnedest to travel to the UK?
Perhaps, because of the ‘Grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome. As we look and read about the spending power of our families back at home, they too are wishing they were here in the UK, with access to a system that works, the opportunity for greater education for their children and more importantly (for me at least) uninterrupted power.
Inadvertently, it seems that it’s a choice between more money or a better quality of life after all.
While we’re on the subject, can someone please tell Nigel Farage to keep calm and read these reports? Maybe then he’ll understand that far from being scroungers, the UK immigrant population actually make a contribution to the UK economy that he and his ilk can only ever dream about. The main reason these rich Africans come here is due to family ties to the UK.
If we weren’t here, they’d more than likely take their money elsewhere. While this may not be such a big deal in the general scheme of things, it’s definitely something to chew on Mr Farage.