Business booms for African sites dedicated to used goods

Rising Internet usage, plus a culture used to bargaining for used goods, provides fertile ground

The online market for used items in expanding rapidly in Africa, as new sites pop up in countries around the continent and sales for the online marketplaces take off.

Lithuania-based Mobofree, the social marketplace that offers people in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe an online venue to buy, sell and swap used products, just last week disclosed that the value of goods exchanged on its platform rose by 274 percent in the last year, to US$1.97 billion—30 percent above the 2015 forecast.

“Second-hand goods is a huge category everywhere around the world. In fact even if online marketplaces and e-commerce shops have grown dramatically in developed countries, second hands goods transactions are growing as marketplaces allow much easier way to find, value and perform transactions,” said Cristobal Alonso, Mobofree’s CEO and co-founder, via email. “I see the same happening in Nigeria and Africa; we will see huge growth in both new items and second hand goods through online platforms for years to come, and even with higher growth rates.”

Mobofree foresees growth in Uganda, though with smaller absolute values than in Nigeria, as the economy is smaller and Internet penetration is one third of that larger country.

A variety of new online marketplaces including,,,,, and OLX have been launched across the continent in recent years. All the marketplaces rely on building and winning the trust of their users. Buyers and sellers go through a vetting process before being allowed to do business on the platforms.

A recent entrant is Sweden-based Saltside Technologies, which launched several sites for used items— in Bangladesh, in Ghana and in Sri Lanka—before launching in the Nigerian market last week.

While is considered Ghana’s largest online marketplace, with over 130,000 ads listed and an estimated one million monthly visitors, has several marketplaces to compete with in Nigeria including Mobofree, which currently has over 500,000 active classifieds in the country.

Alonso maintained that marketplaces “are just at the start of the growth curve” of the opportunities presented by the used items market.

All the market needs is a simplified and expedited process of matching buyers and sellers in a local setting, and “a seller gets more optimal exposure because of the nature of digital platforms,” said Steve Kwizera, CEO at EZ-Tech Solutions, a technology consultancy, via LinkedIn.

“My experience with was excellent,” Kwizera said. “I saw their ad on Youtube shortly after I got to Lagos and used them when I was looking for a router. I was able to find seller who was less than a mile away ... and got my Swift router at an excellent price.”

Kwizera noted that the market would be bigger if the used-item platforms also allowed trading in new items, like several U.S. retail sites do, as there are some used items that have been hard to find in months.

Many people in Africa are used to buying second-hand items for various reasons. They go to markets created specifically for used items, with the idea that they are mostly of high quality and sold at lesser prices. Also, Africans have a history and reputation as being savvy traders.

The soaring Internet penetration rate on the continent has been a contributing factor as well, said Regional SEO Head at Kaymu, Ejiro Esiri. “The business opportunities are there for people to grab them. There is a big market that keeps growing and as a business that used to be primarily offline, the online marketplace model provides an opportunity to reach people in different areas,” Esiri said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

By Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?