Cameroonian markets have been flooded with second-hand clothes from Europe and the United States. Consumers prefer to buy from Germany because of its high quality products.
Not only do buyers cherish the clothes from Germany, but also electronic appliances. This has led to the stock piling of Chinese products considered to be of inferior quality.
At the Mokolo market in the capital Yaounde that is the main supplier of dresses to neighboring countries like Chad, Gabon and the Central African Republic, sellers compete against each other calling out buyers. The products on the stalls range between a dollar to US$10 (9 Euros)
Among the buyers is 21-year-old Bimela Hans who has just been recruited as a secondary teacher in Yaounde. Bimela prefers second hand clothes that can be expensive instead new ones that are cheaper.
"I prefer second hand goods from Europe and America because of the quality and durability. European and American goods are very expensive. But when you know what you want, you better go for what is expensive that will last longer than new and cheaper products," he said.
Cameroon's customs officer Christel Ndjock told DW that in the last 5 years there has been a 50 percent increase in second hand goods imported in Cameroon.
"At times people who have brothers or friends in Europe collect disposed of goods from them because they know Europeans use their electronic appliances for a short period of about 6 months or one year before they acquire new ones," Ndjock said.
German products versus Chinese
"Most cherished electrical appliances are from Germany. Chinese goods are not very good. The goods look very bright but never last. When you buy Chinese products, you need to replace them after three months. But second and third hand goods from Germany are very solid," Ndjock emphasized.
There are also several points where second hand vehicles are sold in Yaounde. Larai Bouba, a university lecturer intends to buy a Mercedes Benz.
"We prefer second hand vehicles from Europe because the vehicles are in a very good state, and well built unlike vehicles from China and India whose quality of spare parts we are not sure of," Bouba said.
"Here we have spare parts of European vehicles, and in circumstances where spare parts are difficult to find, most of us have relatives or friends in Europe who we can contact to send them to us. It is very complicated for vehicles from China that have not been experimented here. We know that goods from Europe are of good standards."
Cameroon's institute of statistics said that most second clothes sold in the country are donations to charity organizations that end up in markets. Critics also say the trade in second hand products hurts the already fragile domestic market. There have also been calls to ban the importation of second hand clothes and prosecute those who run fake charities.
Author: Moki Kindzeka