One would think that you’d only have to deal with the language barrier(s) as a traveler but in an African society that is still heavily reliant on hard cash, you definitely need this tip and the accompanying trick. And Yes, all international debit and credit cards do work in Nigeria.
Now, here are a few tips on how to survive the money exchange rate hustle and avoid the slightest sleight of hand.
Main tip: Better do it at the airport
Well, this might sound mundane but it is for security reasons, keep enough cash that you will need to move around with. Remember, it is still a mix of card and hard cash environment, with more weight on the cash for petty purchases.
Initial currency conversion should be done at the airport, this is your safest best. You should look out for the Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) registered dealers. And do not be surprised if you are told there is no cash (this is Lagos)
Bureau De Change ( locally pronounced as, “buru de charge” )
Once out of the terminal, you will be approached by a number of people trying to sell their service to you among them will be the so-called Abokis / Mallams. These are middle-aged men usually from the northern part of Nigeria.
Here is how they operate, at this point you should know that you are dealing in the black market trade. I will rather you see the process from someone who has been through similar hustle:
Mallams and Aboki – Go meet them, bid and bargain, If there’s an agreement, collect the mallam’s number. Go to a bank (you have an account with), call the mallam to come there with your naira equivalent. He would pay in the naira into your account while you give him his Dollars, Pounds, Euros or any other foreign currency. That way, you won’t [be] shortchanged or given fake/magic money. Cheesy, mallams are countless at the airport.
If you follow the above guideline, you’ve earned your first badge of Lagos school of hard knocks.
The one shortcoming of the scenario above is that it is for returning or regular fliers. But for a first time visitor who wants to use the black market, make sure you have a local guide to help.
As you enjoy the sight and sounds of this beautiful city, always keep it at the back of your mind that.
This is Lagos !
Eko O Ni Baje ( Yourba: “May Lagos not get ruined”)
Once again, for a first-time visitor never go to the street market without a local guide.
Take away tip:
Just add N5 to the bureau de change rate and bam, you have the street / black market rate
Need an online Aborki: https://abokifx.com/ (Rethink Lagos is not affiliated to this site)
Or contact our regular Aboki person