Population and Skills

Africa’s most populous country has an estimated population of 193 million, with more than half of its people under 30 years of age. Adult literacy rate is 59.6%.


There are four levels of education in Nigeria:

  • Early childhood or Pre-primary (1 year);
  • Basic Education (9 years of Primary and Junior Secondary Education) – compulsory and free;
  • Senior Secondary Education (3 years);
  • Tertiary Education (4–6 years, depending on the course).

After obtaining the Basic Education Certificate, students can opt for 3 years of vocational education to obtain either the National Technical Certificate (NTC) or the National Business Certificate (NBC), both of which prepare their graduates to enter the labour market. The National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) conducts the examinations and issues the certificates.

On the other hand, students may choose to complete 3 years of senior secondary school, to obtain the Senior School Certificate, issued by either the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) or the National Examinations Council (NECO). This certificate is required alongside a successful completion of the University Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to access higher education.

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Relevant institutions FMLEUBEC

Higher Education

Higher Education in Nigeria is provided by public and private sector-owned universities, polytechnics, monotechnics, colleges of education and professional institutions.

Nigeria has the largest university system in Sub-Saharan Africa; its 154 universities offer several graduate programs and produce most of its skilled professionals. A Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board administers a national university entrance examination and informs universities of applicant scores.

There are 113 polytechnics in Nigeria. These run 2-year programmes leading to the National Diploma and Higher National Diploma (HND). 1 year of practical experience is required before admission into the HND programme.

85 colleges of education offer Teacher Training Programmes, leading to the award of the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), the minimum teaching qualification, obtainable after 3 years of study.

The National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) is a mandatory one-year of service by Nigerian graduates. The service year includes a three-week camp with paramilitary training followed by formal sector work for the rest of the year while engaging in community developments. The NYSC certificate is a requirement for obtaining subsequent employment in the country.

Several professional Institutions regulate different occupational fields, most of them administering certification examinations to members according to their charter.  Passing these exams is considered a professional accomplishment which validates the competence of individuals in their respective fields.

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Relevant institutions NYSC


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Employment and Contracts

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for “equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, or any other grounds whatsoever”. An employer is required to give to each employee; a written contract within 3 months of engagement stating the particulars of the employer and the employee, the position and job description/functions, terms and conditions of the contract, confidentiality clauses, intellectual property rights, hours of work, remuneration, holiday and holiday pay, etc.

A typical workday comprises 8 hours from Mondays to Fridays, except on public holidays; however some businesses work on Saturdays.

An employment may be terminated if the parties to the contract jointly agree to do so. Generally, however, for an employment to be unilaterally terminated, a notice of termination (based on the terms of the contract of employment and/or the circumstances surrounding the employment) must be given or salary paid in lieu of such notice.

An employer may dismiss an employee where there is a fundamental breach of the employment contract. Employers are encouraged to itemise examples of cases that could lead to dismissal and inform the employees through their employment contract. No compensation is usually payable upon a valid dismissal.

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FMLE) is responsible for industrial relations in general, including conciliation in labour disputes, technical training (through the Industrial Training Fund), manpower development, safety and welfare in the workplace, and supervision of trade union activities.


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Relevant documents Labour Act
Relevant institutions FMLE

Registration of Factories

Every person who occupies or intends to occupy a factory is mandated to apply for registration to the Director of Factories who shall issue a certificate of registration if the proposed factory is suitable. Employers are compelled under the Factories Act to protect workers against industrial hazards and display an extract of the Act in their factory premises.

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Relevant documents Factories Act
Relevant institutions FMLE


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The National Minimum Wage is N18,000 per month. An employer is mandated to keep proper records of the wages and conditions of employment and to retain such records for three (3) years.

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Relevant institutions FMLE

Non-wage Benefits


Employees are entitled to annual leave with full pay of at least twelve (12) working days (for persons under the age of 16 years, including apprentices) and 6 working days for older employees.

Other paid holidays and vacations include public holidays and maternity leave – which are normally fully paid. Maternity leave is typically three (3) months paid leave while paternity leave (though not common) is usually 2 to 5 days of paid leave.  Nursing mothers are allowed half an hour twice a day to attend to their babies.

Sick Leave: An employee is entitled to a maximum of twelve (12) working days of paid sick leave in any calendar year, provided this sickness is certified by a registered medical practitioner.

Leave Benefits Table

Benefits Number of days Wages
Annual Minimum of 6 days (for employees above 16 years old) 12 days for persons below 16 years (including apprentices) Full Pay
Sick Leave Maximum of 12 days (certified by a registered medical practitioner Full Pay
Maternity Leave 12 weeks (comprising 6 weeks immediately before and after childbirth) Usually fully paid, but legally not less than 50% of wages, if the woman had been employed for at least 6 months.

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Relevant institutions FMLE


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Social Security and Other Contributions

Contributory Pension Scheme

Under the Pension Reform Act of 2014, employers and employees are required to make a minimum contribution of 10% and 8% respectively of the employee’s monthly emoluments to a Pension Fund Administrator chosen by the employee. In addition, an employer is also required to maintain a Group Life Insurance Policy for each employee for a minimum of three times the annual total emolument of the employee.


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Relevant documents Pension Reform Act 2014
Relevant institutions PENCOM

Employee Compensation Scheme

The Employee Compensation Act (ECA) provides for adequate compensation for employees or their dependants in the event of death, injury, disease or disability arising out of, or in the course of employment. The Act is also intended to provide for safer working conditions for employees, by ensuring that all relevant stakeholders contribute to the prevention of occupational hazards and disabilities. To this end, employers are required to contribute 1% of their payroll costs to the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to cover employees from work-related accidents and death.

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Relevant documents Employee Compensation Act

National Housing Fund

The NHF seeks to facilitate the provision of houses to Nigerians at affordable prices. Employers are required to deduct 2.5% of employee’s basic salary and remit same to the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria within one month of such deduction.

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Relevant documents National Housing Fund Act

Health Insurance Scheme

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) provides all employees access to affordable health care. Companies with a minimum of ten (10) staff are expected to provide health insurance for their staff and their dependants.National Health Insurance Scheme

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Relevant documents NHIS Operational GuidelinesNational Health Act 2014
Relevant institutions NHIS

Industrial Training Fund

The ITF was established to promote the acquisition of skills in industry and commerce with a view to generating a pool of indigenous trained manpower sufficient to meet the needs of the economy. Employers are required to contribute 1% of annual payroll costs to the ITF, if they

  • have five (5) or more employees or an annual turnover of ₦50million and above;
  • bid for or solicit contracts, businesses, goods and services from public and private establishments;
  • require approval for Expatriate Quota; or
  • utilise Customs services for import and export.

However, the ITF Governing Council may refund of up to 50% of an employer’s contributions if he submits evidence of providing relevant training to his employees.

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Relevant documents Industrial Training Fund Act 2011
Relevant institutions ITF

Summary of Contributions


  Employer contribution Employee Contribution
Pension Contribution 10% of employee’s salary 8% of salary
National Housing Fund None 2.5% of basic salary
National Health Insurance Scheme 10% of employee’s basic salary 5% of basic salary
Industrial Training Fund 1% of annual payroll None
Employee Compensation Scheme 1% of annual payroll None


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Work Permits

Immigration Office

Companies seeking to employ expatriates must apply for the Expatriate Quota, Subject-to-Regularisation (STR) visa and Combined Expatriate Resident Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC). Each of these is explained in detail below.

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Relevant documents Immigration Act 2015

Expatriate Quota

The Immigration Act, 2015 precludes any person other than a Nigerian citizen from accepting employment (not being employment by the Federal or State Government) without the consent in writing of the Minister of Interior. This consent is issued in the form of an Expatriate Quota (EQ) which permits companies to employ expatriates to specific job designations, and also specifies the duration of such employment.

An Expatriate Quota is granted for an initial period of three (3) years. It can however be renewed for further periods of two (2) years each subject to a maximum of ten (10) years. Limited quota positions are granted as Permanent until Reviewed (PUR) for senior executive positions such as the Chief Executive, Managing Director, or General Manager.

The Citizenship and Business Department of the Federal Ministry of Interior (FMI) is responsible for handling Expatriate Quota applications. The process may also be facilitated by the FMI desk at the One Stop Investment Centre (OSIC).

The procedure and fees for obtaining the EQ (through NIPC) are outlined below:

  • Pay the online registration and processing fees through the FMI portal ;
  • Collect the Application Form (Business Form T1) from the FMI Business Department after payment has been confirmed;
  • Submit the company’s application letter to the Permanent Secretary through OSIC Desk Office attaching all the required documents as  listed below;
  • Pay approval fee through the FMI portal. The total cost will depend on the number of expatriate quotas approved;
  • Collect the letter of approval from the Business Registry. This can be done by a company representative with valid identification.
Items Fees (NGN)
Online Registration fee 51,000
Processing Fee 30,000
Business Permit 100,000
Each approved EQ slot 30,000
Renewal of each EQ slot 20,000


  • Applicant must be a registered company in Nigeria with a minimum share capital of N10 million
  • The estimated time frame for processing Expatriate Quota is 14 working days.

Documents required for the EQ application


  • All CAC documents;
  • An application written on Company Letterhead, addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the FMI
  • Bank reference
  • Evidence of Capital Importation
  • Lease Agreement (in a case of rented building)
  • Training schedule for Nigerian employees
  • Current Tax Clearance Certificate
  • Relevant licences and authorisation
  • Joint Venture Agreement
  • Qualifications, Proposed Salary and Job Description of the expatriate

All the above documents are required for processing. Failure to submit any of the documents may lead to delays.

Subject to Regularisation (STR) visa

Once an EQ approval is granted, the expatriate concerned must obtain a Subject to Regularization (STR) visa from the Nigerian Mission in his country of residence. The STR is issued to expatriates coming to work in Nigeria based on the EQ approval. The process for applying for the STR is listed below:

  • Complete and print two copies of the online visa application form (IMM22).
  • Make online payment via www.immigration.gov.ng and print the payment receipt.
  • Affix two (2) passport-sized photographs to the completed visa form and submit along with required documents in person or via post to the Nigerian Mission in the country of applicant’s residence.

An STR application is processed within seven (7) days. Visa fees are not fixed, however the Immigration Facilities Handbook 2017 contains the schedule of visa fees per country.

Documents required for the STR visa application


  • Formal application for STR Visa from the Employer/Institution accepting immigration responsibility
  • Valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity and 2 blank pages for visa endorsement
  • Two (2) passport-sized photographs taken within the last six (6) months
  • Duly completed Visa Form IMM22 – available online (To be completed by the employer)
  • Expatriate Quota Approval
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Letters of Offer of Appointment and Acceptance of Offer
  • Educational qualifications and Curriculum Vitae of the expatriate concerned
  • Extract of Board Resolution**(applicable to CEOs, MDs and GMs)

Combined Expatriate Resident Permit and Aliens Card

Within ninety (90) days of arrival in Nigeria, the expatriate is expected to apply to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) – through his employer – for a Combined Expatriate Resident Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC). The employer must undertake to bear full immigration responsibility on behalf of the expatriate. The NIS assesses each application on its merit in line with the applicant’s qualifications, and takes a decision on the application. The CERPAC is valid for two years but can be renewed annually provided the Expatriate Quota is still valid and there are vacant positions.

CERPAC applications are processed within five (5) working days, and cost $1,000 per annum for all categories of expatriates.

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Relevant institutions NIS

Other Permits

The following permits are also available to foreigners coming into Nigeria for business or work:

Business Visa

This is issued mainly to foreign business men and investors to enable them attend business meetings in Nigeria. It is obtainable at Nigerian Missions but may also be issued on arrival (See Visa on Arrival below). It is valid for 90 days – not extendable – but not for employment.

Temporary Work Permit (TWP)

A TWP is issued to experts invited to perform highly technical and short-term assignments such as installation and repair of equipment, commissioning, conducting specialized training, etc. It is a single-entry visa which is valid for 90 days but may be extended while in-country. The host company shoulders immigration responsibilities of such an expatriate throughout the period of stay in Nigeria.

Visa on Arrival (VoA)

This is available to frequent travellers, high net-worth investors or visitors who may not be able to obtain Nigerian visas due to the absence of a Nigerian mission in their countries or exigencies of business travels. However, the traveller must have obtained a ‘Visa on Arrival Approval Letter’ before commencing travel. Investors may apply for this approval through the Immigration Desk at the NIPC OSIC or by sending an email to oa@nigeriaimmigration.gov.ng. The VoA approval letter is issued within 48 hours and is valid for 14 days. Upon arrival in Nigeria, the traveller will pay (or show evidence of online payment) for, and be issued, the visa.

ECOWAS Residence Card

Citizens of countries that are members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can reside and work in Nigeria without residence permits; they are however required to apply for the ECOWAS Residence Card within 90 days of their arrival in Nigeria.

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Relevant documents Immigration Facilities Handbook 2017Immigration Act 2015Executive Order 001
Relevant institutions NIS

Taxation of Expatriates

An expatriate is liable to tax in Nigeria if his employment costs are recharged to a Nigerian company; or he is in Nigeria for up to 183 days in a year (including leave and temporary absence); or where he is not liable to tax in another country which has a double tax agreement with Nigeria.

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Relevant institutions NIS

What Investors Think

Investors are optimistic about the quality of labour in Nigeria. They describe Nigerians as highly productive, fast learners, who can match anyone anywhere in the world. They however observed that in some instances, especially highly technical fields, they have to invest extensively in training new staff before they can get the desired quality of work from such staff.