Nigeria - Country Commercial Guide

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-13


                                                                                   Unit: USD millions






Total Market Size

865, 207



Total Local Production




Total Exports**




Total Imports

865, 207

950, 000

1, 700, 000

Imports from the U.S.

54, 736


1,150, 000

Exchange rate: 1 USD




Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports) 

Data Sources: 

Total Local Production: n/a 

Total Exports: n/a 

Total Imports: Industry Association, importers, and aviators 

Imports from U.S.: U.S. Census Bureau 

Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics 

  *Estimates are based on qualitative research done with Industry contacts and Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Operators in aviation sector. 

** Primarily re-export of aviation related equipment (e.g. planes, plane parts, helicopter and helicopter parts) to other countries.

The aviation sector was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, associated travel restrictions, and a government-imposed lockdown. 2020 saw a substantial dip in the revenues of several Nigerian airlines, largely due to airport closures and grounded flights.

Between March and September 2020, airlines did not operate, forcing them to lay off personnel or withhold employee pay for several months, even after the lifting of travel restrictions.

Six new airlines are projected to eventually begin operations in the undetermined future: Green Africa Airways, United Nigerian Airlines, Value Jet, NG Eagle, Rano Air, and Northeast Shuttle. According to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), 23 airlines are seeking approval to operate within Nigeria.

From the public sector, GON is still exploring the possibility of launching a new Nigerian national carrier, Nigeria Air. The project was initially discussed in 2019 but stalled due to lack of funding and other procedural challenges. Industry analysts expect that the GON would own a large stake in the new national carrier but delegate operation to the private sector for operation under a joint venture agreement. If expansion plans return to pre-COVID-19 levels, that would necessitate the purchase of approximately 50 aircraft. There are existing discussions between U.S. aircraft manufacturers and local airline operators looking to expand their fleet to accommodate additional traffic and increase their market share.

Nigeria is governed by the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).  As such, U.S. manufacturers and suppliers in this sector have a competitive advantage since their products are already compliant with the safety standards imposed by these organizations. As a matter of fact, American products, including civilian and military aircraft and other military maintenance and surveillance equipment, account for as much as 80% of the total products and equipment used in Nigeria’s aerospace and defense sector.

The GON, through the Ministry of Aviation and the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), has reprioritized funding some of the country’s infrastructure which includes airports, to enable it focus resources in other essential areas. To that effect, the GON approved the concession of some of the nation’s airports and has invited private sector stakeholders to bid for such concessions.

As above, in keeping up with international best practices and ICAO requirements, the GON has embarked on a phased upgrade of aviation infrastructure and equipment. These upgrade projects were initiated in 2018 through the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA) and the airports in Lagos and Abuja were given greater priority due to high passenger traffic. At the Lagos and Abuja airports, the GON planned to upgrade the CAT-II instrument Landing Systems to CAT-III Instrument Landing Systems. The GON’s 2020 budget provided for key capital expenditure across various airports in the country with the aim of improving the infrastructure in these airports, including the building and completion of control towers at five airports (Akure, Ibadan, Ilorin, Maiduguri, and Benin), runway relining/refurbishment at the Enugu airport, and a few other developmental activities across other airports in the country. In addition to this, provision has been made for cargo terminal development projects across eight airports. The NAMA has made provisions for projects involving the optimization of nationwide airspace surveillance and aircraft control. Additionally, arrangements are underway for the procurement of navigation aids and equipment (CAT-III) for Kano, Katsina and Port Harcourt airports in 2020. There is also provision for other projects involving the supply of conveyor belts and the upgrade of airport tower VCCS radios across 13 airports.

U.S.-origin planes continue to dominate aircraft used in Nigeria in both the commercial and government segments of the sectors. Nigeria has begun to take possession of 12 Super Tucano A-29 Aircrafts purchased from the U.S. in 2018 for use by the Nigerian military to aid the ongoing action in the north-eastern region of the country against insurgents. The GON also announced plans to upgrade the presidential fleet with state-of-the art communication equipment. The footprint of U.S.-origin equipment in the Nigerian aviation sector was further established by the delivery of a full flight simulator to the GON (in June 2020, the Minister of Aviation announced that Nigeria had taken possession of a Boeing B737-NG Full Flight Simulator destined for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria, Kaduna state).

Airlines in Nigeria operate different Boeing series planes, from Boeing 737s-700, to 800 series, Boeing 777s- 300 series, Gulfstream jets – 500 and 600 series – as well as Bell helicopters for civilian and military use. Currently over 60% of aircraft in Nigeria are of U.S.-origin and produced by Boeing. The pattern of purchase for these planes varies: some operators purchase directly from Boeing (new or used) or buy as used from dealers. 

Leading Sub-Sectors

Important subsectors within the aviation sector include providers of services that aid airline operators. Two major sub-sectors of opportunity for U.S. companies in Nigeria are: 

  • Aircraft training and maintenance services, and
  • On-ground handling services.

Aircraft training and maintenance services include the provision of flight simulators and personnel training services. Stakeholders in the Nigerian aviation sector have indicated interest in attracting international companies to provide maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facilities in the country, with Lagos or Abuja being the most viable locations, given the high passenger traffic.

There is also a growing need for more advanced on-ground handling and other airport equipment, such as cargo and passenger scanners. This is an opportunity for U.S. companies to sell more equipment to the already welcoming market. Security scanners for people and goods was estimated at $7.7 billion in 2019, according to market research firm Insight Partners.

For more information, e-mail: Adesina Anthony A., U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Consulate General, Lagos, Nigeria at