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Tracing The History of Commerce in Nigeria

Commerce is one of the subjects taught in schools that deal with basically, the buying and selling of commodities. In this post, we are going to trace the history of commerce in Nigeria and every other thing you should know.

Commerce as a subject is being taught in schools, Commerce education provides knowledge about foreign trade, foreign exchange etc. It provides efficient supervisory personnel and the other able hands at a lower level to assist the top executives. It also plays a vital role in modern economic development. Thus it is very important at the higher secondary level.

In a layman or local man understanding, commerce simply deals with the availability, distribution, sale and purchase of a commodity. Commodity here simply means any movable goods that can be bought or sold at any given time, e.g a bag of rice, a bag of beans, tubers of yams and the rest are all commodities.

As we all know trade is the buying and selling of commodities (goods) and services while foreign exchange, on the other hand, is an exchange between two countries where a country shares its abundant product to get the product which it can not produce and vice versa. E.g Nigerian offers crude oil to foreign countries as a means of exchange for products that can not be manufactured in Nigeria.

Having had an insight into The History of English Language in our recent article, let’s quickly trace the history of commerce in Nigeria.

The History of Commerce in Nigeria

Before now farmers engaged in small scale subsistence production of goods for themselves and their families. The trade by barter system (exchange of goods for other goods)  was also carried mostly by farmers to meet up their other needs which they could not provide for.

A typical farmer who had rice but lacked beans will go in exchange with another farmer who had abundant beans but lacked rice, this practice was carried out in other to meet up their basic needs and wants and also cater for their children. Trading was rarely carried out those days as it was only done for international trades

The first form of foreign trade in Nigeria was the trans-Sahara trade in which camels were used as means of transportation. The development of caravan routes across the desert linked Nigeria with the North African traders. The Arab merchants brought goods like cowries, copper, cloth, books, etc which were exchanged for kola nuts, slaves, gold, hides, etc. Important towns like Kano, Bornu, Zaria, Katsina played crucial roles during that period.

After some time, there was a contract agreement with the Europeans and that actually boosted commercial activities in Nigeria. This started in the fifteenth century when the missionaries came to Africa. The European traders brought weapons, books, clothes, etc and exchanged them for slaves and palm oil. The initial commercial towns that served as important trading routes to the sea were Badagry, Bonny, Opobo and Calabar. King Jaja of Opobo played a great role in the development of commerce in Nigeria.

BreakThrough in Commercial Activities in Nigeria

Not long after the slave trade was abolished by the British government, the first breakthrough in commercial activities in Nigeria was the establishment of the United African Company (UAC) and Royal Niger Company.

With the introduction of colonial rule, law and order was instituted and by the 1960s, Nigeria had become a force to be reckoned with in the export of palm oil, cocoa, groundnut and later crude oil. Also, during the 1960s, the exploration of crude oil brought businessmen from all over the world to Nigeria. That process changed the face of commercial activities in Nigeria, huge revenue was generated to develop the infrastructural facilities, e.g. communication system, roads, flyovers, railways, airports, modern seaports, etc.

Read Also: Importance of First School Leaving Certificate

At present, commercial activities have reached a crucial stage in Nigeria with the introduction of sophisticated modern technology such as computer, e-mails, the internet, etc to facilitate trade. Main commercial centres have developed in many cities and towns like Lagos, Ibadan, Kano, Port Harcourt, Warri, Kaduna, Ilorin among others.

Factors Affective The Growth and Development of Commerce in Nigeria & West Africa

Below are some of the factors limiting the growth and development of commerce in Nigeria in West Africa

1. Lack of Capital

Where they are no capital or funding to carry out activities or task that requires money, there will be no growth or development and o lack of capital also hinders effective development of commerce in Nigeria

2. Shortage of Infracstarture

Poor network, bad roads, lack of electricity and shortage of water supply also contributes to the fall of commerce

3. Political Instability

Frequent change in power and gives rise to new goals by political leaders which may not be coherent with the previous leaders and this can also affect commerce development

4. Absence of Well developed Market

A market is a place where different people meet for trade. shortage of markets grossly affects the growth and development of commerce

5. Poor Transportation And Communication System

The region has a very poor road network as well as a poor communication system. Most people have no access to mobile phones or even radio set

6. Low Savings

When farmers are unable to save, it makes commercial transactions difficult and that also affects commerce

Factors That Encourages The Development of Commerce

Below are some of the factor that could improve the growth of commerce in Nigeria and west Africa at large

  • Increase in Population
  • Role Advertising
  • Development of Insurance
  • Development of means of communication and transportation
  • Creation of markets
  • Political oneness

Read Also: History of TRC in Nigeria

Conclusion: Tracing The History of Commerce in Nigeria

In conclusion, I hope this article has made it possible for you to trace the history of commerce in Nigeria as well as the factors militating against the development of commerce in Nigeria and West Africa with possible solutions

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