Used, Refurbished Computers Rule Market in Nigeria


Despite regulations by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and the Basel Convention on the Control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, large numbers of refurbished desktop computers and laptops still enter the Nigerian IT market, where demands for them remain high as a result of relatively cheap prices, CyberLIFE findings can reveal.

As a result of the economic implications of recycling in developed economies, Africa, especially Nigeria, has continued to be a dumping ground for either used or refurbished PCs products.

Although major PC manufacturers, catalogue merchants, and auction sites sell refurbished PCs, the majority of refurbished PCs which offers the most efficient alternative to dealing with the world's growing mound of e-waste from developed economies, a close monitoring of market activities in the largest African ICT market, the Computer Village revealed that majority of these products come in from China and European countries with Africa as the major dumping ground.

Further monitoring of the Computer Village revealed that students, low income earners, IT training institutions, business centres are the major patrons of refurbished PCs. However, some of these systems, according to investigations, are the offspring of cancelled orders and have never even been taken out of the box. But majority, according to findings were returned for some reason by a customer.

In most cases, it is almost difficult to differentiate between a new and refurbished PCs. This is because refurbished PCs, according to findings , are typically cleaned, fixed, and updated if necessary , tested for problems; and reloaded with their operating system after which they are sold 10 to 30 percent below the price of a comparable new system.

In as much as refurbished PCs have continued to be the toast of many low income earners and the students community, one major challenge of buying a refurbished PC, according to findings, is that it is not customized and do not feature the latest technology.

Another challenge of refurbished PCs products is warranty. With this, the best place to buy a refurbished system, experts advised is directly from an established PC manufacturer or mail-order vendor that provides complete product and warranty information and responsive customer service.

For one thing, a lot of users have shied away from buying refurbished systems because of speed gap. For a few hundred dollars more than a used system costs, the reasoning goes, "You can buy a brand-new PC with a top-of the line processor.

That is the still true, and it is 's a compelling argument in favor of buying the latest and greatest. But with chip speeds exceeding an almost unfathomable 2GHz, budget, conscious buyers may consider saving a few by sacrificing some speed," a computer vendor who sells used PCs said last Monday in Lagos.

According to him, there is nothing wrong in buying refurbished PCs given the fact that it will offer the same service like new product. According to IDC analyst, Shane Rau, most users wouldn't notice much of a performance difference between, say, a 1.2 and a 1.7-GHz processor.

"The average PC user surfs the Internet, sends and receives e-mail, tracks finances, and maybe creates modest graphics. None of those tasks require any significant processor power; and by today's speeds, any Athlon or Pentium 4 would be plenty," Rau added.

But the reality, according to sellers of refurbished systems, is quite the opposite. They insist that the extra maintenance and testing refurbished machines undergo make them at least as reliable as their factory-fresh counterparts. And in the case of CPUs, the claims are probably true. "Processors are manufactured to last far beyond a person's ability to wear them out with normal use," Rau explained.

For many buyers, refurbished PCs are as good as new one even without warranty. "But the bottom line is give you the service and nothing more. Nigeria is still embracing IT. We will get there. Things are hard and you not expect student like me to buy new PC. I have been using refurbished PC for one than year now and it has never given me problems" Sunday Okeke, who said that he is a part time student of statistics at the University of Lagos said in an interview last Friday in Lagos.