Nigeria - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

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

Last published date: 2021-01-15


                                                                          Unit:  USD Thousands






2021 (estimated)

Total Market size





Total local production





Total exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange rate: 1 USD





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

Data Sources: 

Total Local Production: Industry contacts, Federal Ministry of Education, National Universities Commission (NUC)

Total Exports: Industry sources

Total Imports: Leading importers, distributors, and industry associations.

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

Nigeria’s increasing population poses a huge challenge to the country’s educational sector. Half of Nigeria’s estimated population of 200 million is below the age of 35. Nigeria is already struggling to provide quality educational services to its existing population. The rapid growth of the country’s population will add millions more students in the coming years.

With this population increase, an infrastructure deficit, poor funding, and increasing poverty, the number of out-of-school children is rising to alarming levels. According to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), approximately 20% of the total out–of-school children population in the world are in Nigeria, with more than 13 million children in the country not enrolled in school.  Of this, 69% come from the North, where cultural practices and economic deprivation limit children’s active participation in school, particularly females.  Almost two-thirds of all students are functionally illiterate. For example, Anambra State (located in the south-eastern part of the country) has the lowest percentage of out-of-school children (6%), while Bauchi (in the north-central region) has the highest number (55%).

Provision of educational services in the country is provided by both the government and private institutions across all stages of the Nigerian education system (Kindergarten to University level). The country operates a 6-3-3-4 (K – 12th grade) education system which mandates that six years be spent in primary/elementary school, three years in junior secondary/middle school, three years in high school, and a minimum of four years in tertiary institutions such as universities, colleges, or polytechnics. Twelfth graders are required to take two major examinations that determine admission into public or private tertiary institutions within and outside Nigeria. The first of these examinations is the West African Senior Secondary Certification Examination (WASCCE) conducted by the West African Examinations Council. The second examination is the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board of Nigeria. Annually, over 1.6 million students sit for the WASSCE examinations, effectively putting the number of Nigerian students annually seeking admission to tertiary institutions in the country at least this level.

Resources allocated to education from the Nigerian government (GON) have not been able to keep up with the demand of a country with a sizable youth population. Public institutions have declined both in terms of quality of education delivered and education infrastructure capacity. A substantial number of would-be college and university students are turned away from the system due to a lack of classroom space allocation.  The Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) have indicated that of the 10 million applicants that sought entry into Nigerian tertiary institutions, only 26% gained admission with 74% failing to get in each year.

The dependence on federal and state governments for funding has resulted in the poor state of these institutions. The decline of public institutions created a market opportunity for the provision of quality education for citizens of Nigeria who had the means to pay rates above those paid at public institutions. In the past two decades, there has been a boom in the number of private universities in the country that have been established to provide value that public institutions currently do not provide.

Based on data from the National Universities Commission (NUC), the number of private universities in Nigeria was 79 compared to 43 federal universities and 52 state universities. With private universities accounting for 46% of the total number of universities in the country, it can be inferred that Nigerians value educational quality, which in turn informs their decision to procure services from private institutions (which can cost as much as $6,000 dollars per term). Nigeria also poses a promising market for study abroad students from millions of young people.  Middle income or affluent Nigerians send their children to other countries for quality education, particularly the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ghana, Malaysia, and India. According to the International Institute of Educators (IIE) Open Doors Report, Nigeria has over 85,000 students studying abroad, including a yearly average of over 16,000 students studying in the United States.

In the 2021 education budget, Nigeria allocated 6.3% of the national budget to the Federal Ministry of Education amounting to 742.5 billion naira ($1.8 billion).  Out of this, 615.1 billion naira ($1.5 billion) is proposed to go into the recurrent expenditure of the ministry covering personnel and overhead costs while 127.3 billion naira ($300 million) is devoted to capital expenditure.  This is the sector’s lowest allocation in 10 years and poses a huge setback to the growth of the education industry.

In an effort to offer education services across the county, GON engaged with a digital learning platform called ULesson in 2020. The platform is created by a Nigerian start-up focused on digital learning applications for students. The product is aimed at helping Nigerian students prepare for key examinations such as UTME (JAMB) and WAEC. The application has over 100,000 downloads and is currently being used by thousands of students across Nigeria to prepare for examinations. uLesson has partnered with state governments such as the Plateau state government to provide this solution to children.  Other companies operating in this space and providing similar services include,, etc., which have been accredited by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education to warehouse virtual content which can be accessed online and offline. High rates of smartphone penetration, and to a lesser degree, broadband internet are driving the adoption of technological solutions in the Nigerian education sector are.

Technology-backed educational institutions offering online education have begun to reap the dividends of investing in telecommunication infrastructure following school shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has increased the visibility of opportunities for technology adoption in the Nigerian educational sector, from delivery of lessons to examinations.


Several opportunities exist for U.S. higher education institutions, suppliers of educational products, and educational service providers across Nigeria.

Nigerians increasingly favor foreign education due to the inadequacies in the Nigerian educational system. However, due to the high cost of foreign education, many Nigerians cannot travel abroad and have therefore adopted a distance learning posture, or a hybrid learning mode of virtual and physical learning. U.S. higher education institutions can take advantage of this opportunity by partnering with local educational institutions to provide educational services. The huge market for private universities in Nigeria makes this opportunity feasible or U.S. educational institutions seeking to enter or expand in Nigeria.

U.S. suppliers are favored in Nigeria for the provision of technology-based solutions. For example, a U.S.-based company supplies smart cards to WAEC for candidate verification during its annual WASSCE exams. In addition, U.S.-based technologies are increasingly being adopted at computer testing centers across the country. With COVID-19, several institutions, including the Lagos Business School, pivoted to using Zoom, a California-headquartered company, to deliver lectures to students. Several other US-based education technology companies have found success in the Nigerian market by identifying local partners and educational service providers with direct access to large pool of end-users (e.g., students or institutions) who use their localized solutions for the dissemination of educational instructions.

The pandemic has created an opportunity for U.S. companies selling educational solutions for online lectures and exams to Nigerian universities, particularly private institutions. (GON and state government universities, due to dwindling government revenues in 2020, are likely to have less capacity to purchase services in the short-term.)  

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

Local Trade Shows

Africa Virtual Reality Education Fair (South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya) – TBD