Just east of Nigeria’s largest city, Banana Island emerges as an affluent enclave

Prices for Banana Island homes start at NGN1 billion, or US$2.75 million, according to real estate broker Roberta Nouboue

Lagos (Credit: iStock)
Lagos (Credit: iStock)

A man-made island just east of the commercial center of Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, has emerged as a wealthy residential enclave.

Banana Island, completed in 2000, is about five miles east of Tafawa Balewa Square, the heart of commerce and ceremonial events in Lagos, and the island has attracted a population of affluent residents.

The island’s population includes billionaire Mike Adenuga, the owner of Globacom, the second-largest telecom company in Nigeria, according to published reports. Among others, Iyabo Obasanjo, daughter of former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, and R&B recording artists and identical twins Peter and Paul Okoye (also known as P-Square) reportedly reside on Banana Island.

The island also attracts ex-patriates from such countries as the United States, Britain and India who work for employers that are based there, including Airtel Nigeria, Ford Foundation Nigeria and law firm Olaniwun Ajayi & Co.

Prices for houses on the 1.63 million-square-meter island in Lagos Lagoon start at NGN1 billion (US$2.75 million), and the priciest residence on the market is a six-bedroom house with an asking price of NGN5 billion, according to Roberta Nouboue, managing director of Madingwa Real Estate.

Part of the appeal of Banana Island is infrastructure unavailable in the rest of Nigeria, including underground systems that deliver water and electricity, central facilities to collect and treat sewage, street lights and satellite telecommunications service.

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The main street on Banana Island (named for its shape) has a limited number of businesses, including a barbershop, café and supermarket. But nearby Victoria Island has dense collection of retail stores and restaurants. Art-lover destinations near Banana Island include the Nigerian National Museum, local auction house Arthouse Contemporary, and the Wheatbaker hotel, which stages art exhibits and other events related to art.

Despite its exclusivity, however, Banana Island has become more affordable for home buyers in recent years. Charles Onyenze, an associate at Knight Frank, says home prices there have dropped by nearly a third since mid-2015.

Banana Island now has competition from another affluent community on nearby Victoria Island, Eko Atlantic City, a 10-square-kilometer development of high-rise residences expected to be completed by 2035.

A few buildings at Eko have opened for occupancy, and the asking price for a flat there can be as much as NGN1 billion, according to Nouboue. “It looks more like Miami, and the ex-pats are starting to like it more” than Banana Island, she told Mansion Global.

Onyenze says home prices on Banana Island have fallen over the last three and a half years for a variety of reasons that include reduced employment, lower prices for crude oil, lofty interest rates, inflation, and a devaluation of Nigeria’s currency, the naira.

But in an interview with Mansion Global, he expressed optimism that the Nigerian economy will improve, and Banana Island will remain a desirable address for “the highest echelon of society.” [Mansion Global]Mike Seemuth