It’s time for Jean Cyrille Agbou to go digging for gold in Lomé.
Twice a week this IT specialist living in Togo wanders in the alleys of this flea-market in search of good deals.
This platform of 13,000 square meters, the size of three football fields, was made available by Lomé’s autonomous port, and has since become a hub for second hand equipment.
“I pretty much look for everything. Computers, appliances, electronics, sometimes even second-hand furniture, as you can see in this truck,” Jean Cyrille Agbou says.
Close to 25% of Togo’s maritime economy comes from second-hand goods imported from Europe.
9 out of 10 Lomé residents buy them on the market, from 2 to more 6 times a year.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not slowed down this habit at all.
“The used car park really is a big business centre and we estimate we have 3,000, sometimes 5,000 people who visit this place every day,” explains Editchao Bawabadi, who runs a used-car park in central Lomé.
“The Togolese second-hand market is driven by the used-cars. Here in Lomé there are about 34 car parks just like this one. Up to 18,000 vehicles are sold here, some 4,000 of which are exported to Sahel countries,” adds Africanews’ correspondent in Togo, Serge Koffi.
The success of this second-hand market can essentially be explained by the way Togolese people look out for the best deal.
It all comes down to a matter of purchasing power, economist Leleng Lebalo says.
“According to a 2019 World Bank report, the annual income of Togolese people is around 400,000 FCFA. Because of that, we are classified as a low-income country. So it is difficult for Togolese people to afford a brand new vehicle.”
“One of the last very important factors that leads Togolese to turn to second-hand vehicles is the prohibitive cost of car loans. Interest rates of these loans go from 10 to 15%,” Lebalo adds.
Car sales may be stagnating in Togo, the second-hand market is still going strong.
In the first quarter of 2020, the country imported $19 million worth of second-hand vehicles according to the Togolese Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies.
A trend that continues in mid-2021.