Ultra-luxury cars gleam through walls of glass at Porsche’s new dealership, in Lagos, Nigeria.
This is only the second dealership in West Africa for the high-end brand, which sells some models for around $200,000.
Michael Wagner, brand manager for the Lagos branch, says Porsche is a good fit for one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
“Nigeria, as the biggest country in Africa with a population of 150 million and the sixth largest oil producing country, certainly has the earning potential to support - and has an affinity for - luxury brands,” said Wagner.
Protests rocked Nigeria in January after the government announced it was ending a fuel subsidy that kept gas prices under 40 cents a gallon – one of the only ways poor Nigerians benefit from the nation’s vast oil wealth. The demonstrations grew into a movement also focused on the ever-widening gap between Nigeria’s rich and poor.
But the showroom, which opened in mid-March, has gotten a good reception from the public, Wagner said.
“I think if you look at the brands that are driven, Nigeria appreciates top quality brands, considering Nigeria’s one of the largest consumers of the most expensive Champagne and really have a taste for these finer goods, we’re really catering for the market that is already there,” said Wagner.
According to the United Nations, despite Nigeria’s fast-growing economy, 71 percent of the population still live on less than a dollar a day.
The new dealership employs 13 people, though not all of them are Nigerian. Wagner said the Nigerian nationals they have hired are offered an extensive training program and earn salaries that are competitive with what other local companies pay.
“Obviously the history of Nigeria and the unions dictate salary, which is a national issue and is not particular to any particular company,” he added.
Wagner said the dealership’s customers come mostly from the private sector.
“The type of people and customers we’re dealing with are all mainly in private enterprise. They all have their own companies,” he said. “So I think that’s very much different to … some countries where politicians are assumed to be driving expensive motor cars.”
January’s fuel subsidy protests eventually ended after President Goodluck Jonathan agreed to reinstate the subsidy, though at a lower level.