Importing and reselling vehicles is one of the most profitable markets on the African continent. Indeed according to the international media and some reports on the export of vehicle in Africa more than 4 million second-hand vehicles would be exported each year from Europe to the African continent. An activity which still remains in the informal, although fruitful.
Some investors are asking themselves the question of how the export of vehicles on the one hand and, on the other hand, the maritime transport between Europe and Africa, the countries from which its vehicles originate and the conditions under which its vehicles are operated transported to Africa.
Who is involved in this business?
In Europe Antwerp and Brussels are at the heart of this activity. In the Heyvaert district of Brussels, along the canal, about 200 companies buy, sell and export used vehicles mainly to Africa via the port of Antwerp.
Antwerp is positioned as a multipurpose port, to date the 2nd largest container port in Europe. The container port in Antwerp has the fastest growth in the entire North West of Europe, with 5 terminals. A quarter of the exports would go through the port of Antwerp, or about 500,000 vehicles per year.
Vehicles are mostly bought in France and Germany but also in the Netherlands for heavy trucks, in Belgium and even in Eastern Europe, notably in Poland. This trade is animated by hundreds of garage owners in collaboration with some of their counterparts located in Africa and especially by some very large traders located on the African continent.
A trade body is at the center of this trade, namely the freight forwarder, whose purpose is, among other things, to carry out, for a third party, the formalities for the passage of vehicles from one customs territory to another. Freight forwarders like M2R maritime play a major role in the transfer of vehicles to Africa.
In Antwerp 57% of the vehicles are exported to West Africa, mainly Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, and many others to mention only Francophone West Africa.
The first port of entry of vehicles to Africa
According to the French West African Company (CFAO), 450,000 used vehicles are sold in West Africa each year. In Cotonou in Benin the first entry door of used vehicles in West Africa the authorities estimate the imports to more than 340,000 vehicles each year.
Cote d’Ivoire, meanwhile, has imported more than 38,000 used vehicles in 2013, said the commissioner-general of the Abidjan International Motor Show, Morou Ouattara, announcing a “more important” trend in 2014 and much more in 2016.
If imports of second-hand vehicles are increasing, it is partly due to the emergence of a middle class that takes advantage of the strong economic growth of some African countries.
However another factor might explain these massive imports of used vehicles. In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, the law authorizes the importation of vehicles over five years old. Thus, in order to replace its aging fleet, the Ivorian government has to pass a law allowing the purchase on the European and American markets of vehicles, the age of which can be up to 10 years.
According to some experts on the continent, major groups such as CFAO could “franchise” the sales of second-hand vehicles, reorganize them in accompanying persons on the spare parts sector, after-sales service with particular guarantees. This will allow second-hand vehicle sales outlets to come out of the informal. In the meantime, the informal still has good days ahead.