Abas metal scrap market

Unveiling Aba’s Metal Scrap Market

by Ikem Emmanuel

Aba, the commercial nerve center of Abia State, Nigeria, boasts a bustling metal scrap market that plays a pivotal role in the local and National economy. This market is colloquially known as the “iron condemn”, “iron scrap”, or “akpakara” market as it is fondly called in Aba, where various metals, including iron, copper components, brass, and aluminum, are bought and sold in abundance. These metals, sourced from spoilt gadgets and appliances that people no longer use, form the backbone of the iron scrap trade in Aba.

dump yard metal scrap market aba

A metal scrap market within Aba’s dump yards

My recent trip to Aba was motivated by a desire to delve into the inner workings of this multibillion-dollar market, which remains relatively unknown to many outside the region. Through firsthand exploration and engagement with market participants, I aim to shed light on the intricacies of the iron scrap market in Aba and uncover its socioeconomic significance within the broader context of Nigeria’s industrial landscape.

History of the Metal Scrap Market in Aba

The metal scrap market in Aba has a rich history that boomed after the Biafran War. In the wake of widespread destruction and devastation, many Igbo traders, who had prior experience in steel mills, recognized the untapped potential of the abundant metal scraps left behind.


Following the war, Aba became a hub for metal scrap trading as traders saw the opportunity to extract value from the debris of destroyed properties. Copper emerged as a particularly sought-after metal due to its high reuse value, although other metals such as aluminium, iron, cast, and armature were also in demand.

What started as a local enterprise soon expanded beyond Aba, with traders venturing into neighboring countries like Cameroon, Togo, and Benin in search of spoilt components and appliances containing valuable metals. These traders capitalized on the ignorance of sellers regarding the true value of their scrap materials, offering them money for items they considered worthless.

Scrap metal merchants workers salvaging iron and steel in the 1960s

Scrap metal merchants workers salvaging iron and steel in the 1960s

Over time, metal scrap traders in Aba amassed significant quantities of scrap metal, attracting the attention of both local steel companies and foreign investors. Despite the challenges of working with dirty and unclean materials, these traders transformed their businesses into lucrative enterprises, establishing themselves as millionaires and billionaires in the process.

The history of the metal scrap market in Aba reflects the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of its traders, who turned adversity into opportunity in the aftermath of the Biafran war. Their ingenuity and resourcefulness continue to shape the thriving metal scrap industry in the region today.

Economic Impact and Future Prospects.

In Aba and Nigeria at large, the metal scrap market plays a pivotal role in the economic landscape, with far-reaching impacts on both individuals and communities. Stemming from the aftermath of the Biafran war, this market has evolved into a vibrant hub for entrepreneurial activity and economic empowerment. It’s not uncommon to see individuals, from young boys to seasoned businessmen, navigating through piles of discarded metal, scavenging for valuable scraps that hold the promise of financial gain.

These scraps, ranging from copper extracted from ceiling fans to aluminum salvaged from standing fans, hold significant value in today’s market, fetching prices that can change the fortunes of those who stumble upon them. The market’s influence extends beyond monetary gains, fostering a culture of resourcefulness and ingenuity among its participants. Young apprentices learn the trade alongside seasoned professionals, gaining valuable skills that enable them to carve out their paths in the industry. Moreover, the market catalyzes community development, offering employment opportunities and driving economic growth in the region. As technology continues to advance, the metal scrap market in Aba and Nigeria holds immense potential for further growth and innovation, paving the way for a sustainable and prosperous future.


The metal scrap market in Aba and Nigeria has had a profound economic impact, contributing significantly to wealth creation and job opportunities. The economic impact extends beyond wealth creation to job creation, especially for the youth. Many young men have become millionaires through their involvement in the metal scrap market, establishing scrap yards or ‘dumps’ to store and categorize metals. Employment opportunities abound as individuals are tasked with extracting metal components from condemned appliances and organizing them for sale.

Moreover, the market has facilitated an apprenticeship system, allowing young men to learn the trade while working in the industry. This has led to the emergence of successful entrepreneurs within a short period. The disposable income generated by the metal scrap market has bolstered the Aba economy, creating a ripple effect of financial stability and prosperity.

Looking ahead, the metal scrap market holds immense potential for growth and innovation. Technological advancements can further streamline operations and enhance environmental sustainability by promoting the reuse of metal components. Additionally, the market provides essential raw materials to manufacturing companies, ensuring a steady supply chain and supporting local industries.


In conclusion, the metal scrap market in Aba and Nigeria has not only transformed lives and communities but also emerged as a cornerstone of economic growth and sustainability. With continued support and innovation, its prospects remain bright.

Interview with a Metal Scrap Trader:

We had the privilege of engaging in a conversation with Ebuka Jaguar, a seasoned metal scrap trader boasting over two decades of experience in the bustling Aba market. He inherited this trade from his father, carrying on a legacy that spans generations. Ebuka’s insights offer invaluable perspectives into the intricate dynamics of the industry and illuminate the challenges encountered by traders like himself.

Interviewer: Why Jaguar?


Ebuka: That was the nickname of my dad during his market days. He was known to be a resilient trader and hardworking, which earned him the nickname.

Interviewer: How long have you been in the business?

Ebuka: I’ll say 20 years, as I was indulged in it by my parents after my secondary education, which prompted me to marry early and take responsibility for the family legacy and business as the only child.

When asked about the origins of the metal scrap market in Aba, Ebuka reminisced about the aftermath of the Biafran war and its impact on the local economy. “After the war, My father and his friends saw an abundance of destroyed properties and infrastructure, many of which contained valuable metal components. They realized there was an opportunity to salvage these materials and turn them into a profitable business.”

Ebuka highlighted the importance of networking and relationships in the metal scrap trade. “Building trust with suppliers and buyers is crucial in this industry. We rely on word-of-mouth referrals and long-standing relationships to secure quality materials and favorable deals.”


He also shared insights into the challenges facing metal scrap traders in Aba, including fluctuating market prices and logistical hurdles. “The market prices for different metals can vary widely from day to day, making it challenging to predict profits. Additionally, transportation costs and access to reliable suppliers can be obstacles in sourcing materials.”

Despite these challenges, Ebuka remains optimistic about the future of the metal scrap market in Aba. “As technology advances and environmental awareness grows, there’s a growing demand for recycled materials. We’re constantly adapting our practices to meet these evolving demands and contribute to a more sustainable future.”

He stated further, “As a buyer of metal scrap materials, I’m committed to promoting environmental sustainability and responsible recycling practices. We carefully sort and process the materials we acquire, ensuring that they are recycled and reused in an eco-friendly manner.”

He highlighted the economic benefits of the metal scrap market for local communities. “The metal scrap market provides valuable income-generating opportunities for individuals and families in Aba. By purchasing scrap materials from local traders, we’re able to support livelihoods and contribute to economic growth in the region.”


Ebuka also stressed the need for collaboration between stakeholders in the metal scrap industry. “Collaboration between traders, buyers, and policymakers is essential for the sustainable growth of the metal scrap market. By working together, we can address common challenges and explore opportunities for innovation and development.

Challenges Confronting Metal Scrap Traders in Aba

The Abia State government once closed 31 scrap and disused materials markets in Aba has highlighted one of the significant challenges faced by metal scrap traders in the region. The closure, aimed at identifying and addressing illegal activities within the market, underscores the need for government intervention to regulate the industry effectively.

Additionally, the prevalence of theft poses another significant challenge for metal scrap traders in Aba. The availability of highly sought-after metals in everyday appliances has led to incidents of burglary, where thieves target houses to steal these valuable materials. This not only disrupts the operations of legitimate traders but also poses risks for unsuspecting buyers who may inadvertently purchase stolen goods, leading to potential legal issues.


Moreover, the fluctuating exchange rate between the dollar and the naira further compounds the challenges faced by metal scrap traders. The unpredictable nature of currency fluctuations can result in financial losses for traders who have purchased materials at a certain price, only to see their value diminish when the exchange rate changes unfavorably.

In light of these challenges, it is imperative for metal scrap traders in Aba to navigate the regulatory landscape carefully while implementing measures to safeguard against theft and mitigate the risks associated with currency fluctuations. Government intervention and support, coupled with enhanced security measures, are crucial in ensuring the sustainability and integrity of the metal scrap market in Aba.

The metal scrap market in Aba stands as a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of its traders, who have turned adversity into opportunity in the aftermath of the Biafran war. From its humble beginnings as a local enterprise to its current status as a multibillion-dollar industry, the market has played a pivotal role in shaping the economic landscape of Aba and Nigeria as a whole.


Through our exploration of the history, economic impact, and future prospects of the metal scrap market, we have gained valuable insights into its socioeconomic significance and potential for growth and innovation. From providing employment opportunities and driving economic growth to promoting environmental sustainability and resourcefulness, the market continues to make a profound impact on the lives of individuals and communities in Aba and beyond.

As we look to the future, it is imperative that stakeholders in the metal scrap industry collaborate to address common challenges and seize opportunities for development. By fostering partnerships and embracing technological advancements, we can ensure that the metal scrap market remains a cornerstone of economic growth and sustainability in Aba and Nigeria for generations to come.

With continued support and innovation, the metal scrap market in Aba holds immense potential to thrive and contribute to the prosperity of the region. As we celebrate its rich history and enduring legacy, let us also look forward to a future filled with promise and opportunity in the vibrant world of metal scrap trading.


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