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Land lines are not very common in Nigeria - everyone's got a cell phone, and land lines are just enjoying a resurgence. A typical Nigerian phone number (cell phone) is something like this: 0803- 456- 0987. There are no Area codes for the cell phones. There are three major phone companies, and a last minor one. Phone coverage is quite good - even in many remote villages in Nigeria , the cell phone signal is often strong. Also, on the Inter-State highways, the signal is often very good. In general, telecommunications is no longer a big worry in Nigeria - for a few years now, the country has been the world's fastest growing telecommunications market, and there is basically a cell-phone revolution taking place there as we speak. Renting cell phones in Nigeria is uncommon - simply because buying cell phones will only set you back about, say 50 dollars for the cheapest one? You will have to buy a handset (the actual phone itself) and a line (the SIM card) separately. The price of the SIM card plummets daily - and in general (as of July 2006) a SIM card will cost you about $5! In addition to this, you have to buy local calling cards to activate the SIM cards and recharge the account (there are different values of local calling cards). You could get some for $10, some for $5, and even as low as $2! The calling cards have a very long number on them, and this number must be loaded into the phone to recharge your account. (Beware of fake calling cards, and only buy from the Official Outlets sanctioned by the Phone companies).
A convenient and secure way, If you have the local Interswitch ATM card or a VISA/Mastercard/Paypal account, is to buy the local calling cards online at www.prepaidnigeria.com The PIN and serial number is simply displayed on the screen with a copy sent to your email address. This web site sells recharge cards (evouchers) for all major networks and denominations.
A better option (if you have to live in Nigeria for more than 6 months) would just be to purchase what is locally known as a "Business Line" - it's a Pay As You Go line that does away with all the recharging and local calling cards. The Phone companies gives you a monthly bill/Directly deducts from a special bank account and you pay for as many minutes/hours of airtime as you used in the past month.
The above paragraphs apply to people who want to visit both rural and urban areas in the country. However, if you will only visit the Big Cities, then you'll find that there are calling centres on practically every street in Nigeria - you simply give them cash, and the numbers you want to call, they dial the numbers for you, and give you a handset to speak with!
In conclusion, telecommunications will be the least of your worries in Nigeria!