Many of the cars that are taken out of circulation in European markets because of high pollution levels end up in Africa where they circulate without any restrictions. The European Union, like other major countries, is moving towards the electrification of its vehicles and has already agreed to ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines by 2035, a drastic decision as part of efforts to halt global warming.

Manufacturers of old cars that are out of compliance with emissions standards are not dismantled, but are exported to Africa where they have a long and very polluting second life. Such as the case of a Beninese man who bought a Toyota Matrix that had already travelled the equivalent of four times around the world and which, due to its condition, would never pass a mechanical inspection in Europe or any other developed market.

Africa is the world's leading destination for used cars. More than a quarter of the used cars that were exported between 2015 and 2020, some 5.6 million, ended up on this continent. The cars come mainly from Europe and Japan, South Korea and the United States. They are often very old and polluting models. Benin is one of the top five importers of used cars in Africa. This West African country has only 11 million inhabitants, but it is the gateway to the markets of Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and its huge neighbour Nigeria, the continent's most populous nation.

Broken down vehicles or vehicles without catalytic convertersĀ 

A United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report indicated that most vehicles exported to developing countries are old, polluting, inefficient, potentially dangerous and increase carbon emissions. Some of the damaged vehicles had had their catalytic converters, an engine component that reduces the emission of toxic non-carbon gases such as nitrogen oxide, removed. To filter out these polluting gases, catalytic converters use metals such as gold, silver, rhodium and platinum and can be worth over $100, sometimes being removed and sold without it before being exported to Africa.