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Africa's City on a Hill

Lessons from Lagos

School children in Lagos on independence day, October 2009. Akintunde Akinleye / Courtesy Reuters

In Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, things are looking up. Since civilian rule returned to the country in 1999, the city’s government has improved basic services, updated its infrastructure, and increased public safety. And as investors flock to one of Africa’s biggest economies, business there is booming.

That’s quite an achievement in a country that earns over $50 billion in oil revenue each year but will soon have more people living below the poverty line than China. The average life expectancy for Nigeria’s 174 million people -- just 52 years -- is one of the world’s lowest. Pirates and armed militant groups are prevalent in the south, sectarian conflict troubles the country’s so-called middle belt, and a bloody Islamist insurgency has a foothold in the north. There are 12 confirmed cases of the Ebola virus. Next year’s presidential election will likely bring even more tumult, spurring new attacks

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