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The popular Awolowo road in Ikoyi

What you should know about Ikoyi

Ikoyi is the most affluent neighborhood of Lagos, Nigeria located on Lagos Island. It is an up-market residential island separated by a narrow waterway from Lagos Island to the west inhabited by expatriates, Nigerian military rulers or you can say it is popular with the upper class residents of Nigerian high society. It lies to the northeast of Obalende at the edge of the Lagos Lagoon and encompasses the eastern half of Lagos Island.

Old Ikoyi - Turnbull road(1959)

Old Ikoyi – Turnbull road(1959)

Historically, the area that makes up Ikoyi was originally part of Lagos Island until it was separated from Lagos Island by a narrow waterway that was dug by the British colonial government. This canal has now been built over or filled so that the two islands are fused together again. It is shielded from the Atlantic Ocean by Victoria Island and the broad sand spit running east down the coast.

During the colonial era, the island was developed as a residential cantonment for the expatriate British community and still retains many of the large colonial residences built between 1900 and 1950.

The bridge that links Lekki to Ikoyi

The bridge that links Lekki to Ikoyi

Ikoyi now contains many other government buildings as well as, businesses, hotels, schools, and the famous social club – Ikoyi Club 1938 and golf club – Ikoyi Golf Club. Formerly inhabited by British colonial officials, after independence in 1960 the big, airy houses on large plots of land were set aside for government officials as part of a so-called government reserved area (GRA) before being refurbished and sold off to private owners. Recent development has seen the construction of high-rise apartment blocks and much of the leafy charm is now gone. Most people opt to live in a serviced estate i.e. with a shared pool and gym, but most importantly where security and electricity are guaranteed

One of the main attractions in Ikoyi is Awolowo Road, which is a high street lined with upscale shops and boutiques. Due to its proximity to Victoria Island and Lagos Island, much of Lagos’s business tourism is centered on Ikoyi, which has a mix of excellent 4-star hotels.

Due to unrest in the Niger Delta, several oil companies have moved their expatriate staff to Ikoyi. The area is now home to several large luxury apartments, estates, and upscale office developments. Lagos Preparatory School (13+), regarded as Africa’s most highly accredited British School is located in Ikoyi (36-40 Glover Road).

Falomo Roundabout as seen at night

Falomo Roundabout as seen at night

Ikoyi has some of the most opulent residential facilities in Nigeria, and is thought to have the most expensive real estate on the entire African continent, with the average new apartment selling for N230 million (around US$1 million). However, due to the limited available land, many of these are vertical apartment buildings.

Ikoyi includes the newer suburbs of Banana Island, Parkview Estate, Dolphin Estate and other luxurious blocks of flats that are springing up.

The rent for a luxury three-bedroom apartment in Ikoyi is between $45,000 and $80,000 (N10.4m and N18.4m) annually(current exchange rate applicable). Five years ago, it was between $10,000 and $30,000 (N1.16m and N3.5m) per annum. An acre (six standard plots) in Banana Island, Parkview Estate and Osborne Road in Ikoyi now sells for between N400m and N450m. Five years ago, it sold for between N50m and N150m.

One of Ikoyi's finest - Le Meridien Grand Tower

One of Ikoyi’s finest – Le Meridien Grand Tower

A further break-down will have a serviced 3-bedroom flat costing in the region of N11.5 million ($50,000) with a service charge of N3.5 million ($15,000). Also, in what is now called Old Ikoyi, detached colonial houses can fetch up to N27.6 million ($120,000) a year. Parkview and Osborne estates are also popular, although these are not generally serviced. Banana Island, next to Parkview Estate, is also prime land. Built on reclaimed land, it is named after the shape it took. Waterfront 3-bedroom terraced houses cost N19.6 million ($85,000) with service charges of N4.6 million ($20,000). The popular Rebecca Courts (so popular that there is a waiting list of two years) is also in this price range. Built on expensive land with swimming pools, well maintained lawns, a squash court and a children’s play area, it is home to expatriates working in top management positions with oil and telecommunications companies.

A luxury house in Ikoyi

A luxury house in Ikoyi

This development is a radical departure from Ikoyi’s original design, which was originally composed of modest single-family residences with large gardens. Considering the lack of constant electricity, pipe-borne water, and general decay in basic infrastructure that is typical of Lagos, concerns have been raised as to whether Ikoyi has the necessary road and water infrastructure to continue to sustain this type of development.

Moreover, Ikoyi is one of the regions with the highest amount of rainfall in Lagos with rain often exceeding 300cm every year.

Ikoyi is served by buses and taxis. Car-hire services are also available at Ikoyi Hotel car park. However, most residents have their own car and on Banana Island public transport is banned altogether. Roads in Ikoyi are generally good but traffic can occasionally come to a standstill, especially when the government announces a rise in fuel prices triggering panic buying and untidy queues of cars at the numerous petrol stations in the area. Shops are mostly to be found along Awolowo Road in the south and there is also the popular Falomo Shopping Mall in the area. Ikoyi boasts several recreational clubs such as the Motor Boat Club, the Ikoyi Club and the Polo Golf club. However, they are all for the elites in the society: you need to own a boat to join boat club, a horse/play polo to join polo club etc.

Ikoyi Golf Course

Ikoyi Golf Course

The popular Freedom Park, Lagos is located in Ikoyi and is one of its landmark sites. Formerly called the Ikoyi Prisons, Freedom Park Lagos, born out of the ruins of Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prisons, was reconstructed to preserve the history and cultural heritage of the Nigerian People.

Freedom Park 1970

Freedom Park 1970

Freedom Park Lagos is a National Memorial, a Historical landmark, a Cultural site, Arts and Recreation centre. The project commemorated the 50th anniversary independence celebration in October, 2010 in remembrance of the Nation’s foremost fathers for their patriotism which ultimately led to the Nation’s Independence from colonial masters.

Present day Freedom Park

Present day Freedom Park

So, if you are a Lagosian and you never knew all of these about Ikoyi, I’m sure we’ve laid it bare. Even if you’ve not had an opportunity to reside in Ikoyi or even visit, I believe reading this piece has bridged the gap.

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