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Onitsha: The Economic Value, History and Standard of Living of this Nigerian City


Onitsha is easily considered as the gateway to the eastern part of Nigeria from the west and because of this it is strictly a commercial city. The city is known as one of the most populated and largest cities in Nigeria. It is the most populated city in the south-east with a population of about 1.5 – 2 million people.

Onitsha has a high resident population, and this is because of the level of trade and commerce that goes on in the city. It is at an important location linking southeastern Nigeria to the western part of Nigeria and has a direct link to Lagos. This makes it to have the largest market in West Africa, other large markets like one for clothes, building materials, drugs and many more. People come from all over Nigeria to buy these goods in wholesale.

Aside from the level of commerce going on in Onitsha, there is also high-level of education in the city as quality secondary schools exist, there is quality healthcare and a relevant infrastructure. However, the city is commercial through most perspectives and can be compared to other big commercial cities in Nigeria like Kano and Lagos.

To fully understand what this city represent and to know it better, we would be throwing up relevant questions to expose most of the knowledge about this city. The questions are below,

Where is Onitsha?

Onitsha is in southeast Nigeria and in Anambra State. It is close to the River Niger, and the bridges over the river leading from Asaba to Onitsha. It shares border with the river which divides it from Asaba, the capital of Delta State, on the other side of the river. It is an ancient city long known for its big market because of its closeness to the river and serving as gateway to the southeast.

What is the history of Onitsha? 

Onitsha oral history states that forebears of Onitsha people migrated from Benin, and this is why they have an Obi (king) whose traditional attire is similar to the ones worn by Benin royalty. They crossed the river and settled in the present day Onitsha. They established a market and due to it was at the bank of the river, the market served surrounding areas and as far as parts of Igala land and the south-south regions.

The market was a vital part of the ancient Onitsha. When the Europeans visited Onitsha, they quickly saw its potentials and set up their trade in the city. Thus, it influenced the location and made people come from far and wide to buy and sell in Onitsha. This day the great commerce going on here has not ceased.

How big is Onitsha?

The city is not too big in terms of landmass as Lagos and Kano are far bigger in terms of landmass; however, in terms of high-rise buildings and population, Onitsha is really big according to Nigerian standard. Onitsha has the largest clusters of high-rise buildings of 4-floors, at least, in Nigeria and than any other city in Nigeria. It is densely populated and attracts a lot of buyers from all over Nigeria to itself. However, in terms of landmass, it is not that large.

How developed is Onitsha?

Onitsha is very developed and has most social amenities like roads, water, light, hospitals, schools and many more. However, some of these amenities and infrastructure are in state of disrepair. What makes Onitsha outstanding is that it looks well-planned and there are markets virtually everywhere you go in the city. So, it is very developed.

How good is Onitsha for business?

This city is a large commercial city and this makes it good for business. The city has the population and it is in a good location. Customers come from very far places to buy from Onitsha. If you also the question, what kind of business will be good in Onitsha? Well, any business that has to do with buying and selling or manufacturing and selling and distribution will be good in Onitsha. Products such as clothes, drugs, auto spare parts, plastic, furniture, provisions and produced goods move well in Onitsha especially if you intend to sell at whole sale level.

What are the reasons why you should do business in Onitsha?

  • Population: Onitsha has large population of over 1.5 million people, and so you would always see someone to sell to. Aside from the main residents of Onitsha, the neighhboring highly populated towns also come into Onitsha to make purchase, and then people who come from very far places. Onitsha caters for the market needs of more than 5 million people, at least.
  • Location: The city as the gateway to the east and close to the river makes it good for intensive commerce. Products for sale are always very cheap in the city, and this makes it the best location for wholesale purchase in eastern Nigeria. Onitsha is reported to have the cheapest prices for all imported as well as Nigerian manufactured products. This promotes commerce and business.
  • Infrastructure: There are good infrastructure in place to make ease your doing business there like roads, power supply, hospital and more. Even though some of these infrastructure are in disrepair, the city is still good place for doing business as the infrastructure on ground is good.
  • Affordability: Level of living in Onitsha is highly affordable. Onitsha, not minding its status and bigness, is one of the most affordable cities in southern Nigeria. Housing is cheap. Food is cheap. Clothing is cheap as well and other commodities are relatively cheaper. It is where a young man can start life.
  • Metropolitan: Onitsha is metropolitan as you can find most ethnic groups and races there so it would be a nice place to learn, grow and enjoy.


This city is an intensive commercial city and certainly turns out well for business men and women who go there. It would be a great option for you if you also choose to move to this great city. It is a very good place for doing business. It has all the features that can make a business strive.

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