SA has enough old cellphones lying around to make a billion rand profit

There may be money sitting in that bottom drawer after all.
There may be money sitting in that bottom drawer after all.
Image: 123RF / Nenetus

Somewhere in SA, in a house just like yours, sits an old cellphone tucked away in a drawer. And, without you knowing, you might be sitting on a collective gold mine.

According to researchers at Gumtree, there are so many unused smart cellphones in South Africans' drawers that we have the potential to sell them for a combined R1bn profit.

But these devices would ultimately need to make it on to the site for that to become cash in hand.

The online classified's site released a study last week which found that they had enough smart cellphones for sale on their website alone that the revenue was a potential R60m.

Estelle Nagel, brand marketing manager at Gumtree, said according to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) “State of the ICT Sector” report, SA's smartphone penetration increased from 81.7% in 2018 to 91.2% in 2019.

“Predictions are on track for our market to exceed the 100% threshold by mid-2021,” she said.

“Many people upgrade their smartphones if on contract, or buy a new one to keep up with the latest technology, or to get the most updated phone features. While some might give their perfectly decent old phone away, there are a lot who don’t do anything with them.”

Gumtree now has 13,292 cellphones listed for sale: 4,438 are Samsung, 4,377 are Apple iPhones and 2,377 are made by Huawei.

“Our research into phone pricing on Gumtree showed that R4,500 is the median value for a listing. Multiply this by the current number of live smartphone listings reveals a figure just shy of R60m, suggesting that South Africans are sitting on an estimated R940m worth of listable, sellable, preloved handsets,” said Nagel.

Most of these phones are listed for sale in the Western Cape, followed by Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, she added.


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