Music is Nigeria’s biggest export to the globe, not football

Wizkid during a performance at the 02 Arena/Pulse NG
Wizkid during a performance at the 02 Arena/Pulse NG

Since the late 20th century, football has been Nigeria’s major export to the globe. Export in this context refers to an activity that has given Nigeria recognition around the globe and increased the country’s popularity.

Oil is Nigeria’s biggest export in terms of the economy, but it is not what the country is notable for in the world. Nigerian music in the 20th century was still struggling to become the country’s major export when football took the position in the 1990s, as Nigeria beat Brazil in the semi-final and Argentina in the final of the 1996 men’s football event in the Olympics Games (Atlanta, USA).

Legendary musicians like Fela, Majek Fashek, Nelly Uchendu, Oliver De Coque, and Onyeka Onwenu gained global recognition in the 80s and 90s, but the likes of Kanu Nwankwo, Jay Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokachi, Emmanuel Amunike, and Victor Ikpeba overshadowed them with what they could do with the ball.

Watch video of Oliver De Coque performing in Los Angeles, USA, in 1990 here:

Nigeria was ranked fifth by FIFA in 1994, a year the country won its second African title and featured in the World Cup for the first time.


Nigerian football will maintain its dominance in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but music was gradually finding its way until the emergence of 21st century Nigerian musicians such as Tuface, PSquare, and a few others.

Ten years into the 21st century, Nigerian music took over the export position from football as stars such as Wizkid, Davido, Olamide, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, and more emerged.

The advent of digitalization is to be thanked as Nigerian sounds, which were hitherto heard within Nigeria and Africa, traveled throughout the globe with the use of social media.

Nigeria’s biggest celebrity on social media is Davido. The “Fem’’ singer has over 26 million followers on Instagram, over 4.5 million followers on Facebook, and over 13 million followers on Twitter. No Nigerian footballer commands these numbers.

Nigerian musician Burna Boy would go on to win music’s biggest prize, the Grammys, in 2021. Nigerian music is Nigeria’s biggest export to the globe and does not seem to be vacating this position in a century.

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