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Top 10 Biggest Open Air Markets in Africa

By Prudence Minayo

Open air markets in Africa attract droves of traders and buyers. The markets are a beehive of activities as sellers try to outdoor each other to woo customers. These markets are popular with second hand clothes, foodstuffs and electronics stalls. Although most are considered chaotic, people visit them not just to buy goods but for the experience as well. 

Karatina Open Air Market, Kenya 

Karatina market in Nyeri county is the largest open air market in East Africa. It was officially opened on November 1, 2018 after undergoing major renovations-that cost the exchequer Sh475 million-to turn it into a modern market. 

The market has cold storage facility measuring 250 square metres where farmers preserve their produce until there is demand for their commodities. The four floor building measuring 7,500 square metres is able to accommodate up to 3,000 traders. It has also a basement parking for an estimated 40 vehicles.

Merkato, Ethiopia

Located in Addis Katema, Addis Ababa, this is the largest open air market in Africa. An estimated 13,000 people are employed in this market that has 7,100 stalls. Locally grown agriculture products are popular in this market. Other products you will find in Merkato include spices, jewellery, electronics and a recycling market that sells sandals, and old coffee pots. It is an interesting place to visit if you are not buying and marvel at the Old Italian architecture. One can expect to meet different people who speak the Amharic language and come from 90 different tribes of Ethiopia.

Places you should visit in this vast market include the spice market, second hand items market and hand made basket market. 

Jemaa El-Fnaa, Morocco

In 2001, UNESCO declared it a masterpiece of world heritage. The market not only sells various food stuffs including squeezed juice but offers a variety of entertainers, like, snake charmers. 

The name loosely translates to Mosque of Death or assembly of the dead. The name is said to have originated either from a tragic accident when a neighbouring mosque collapsed and buried thousands of worshipers or because all public executions were likely carried out here.

Also Read: Tallest Buildings in Nairobi And The Architects Who Designed Them

Onitsha Main Market, Nigeria 

It is West Africa’s commercial powerhouse. It is governed by one of the most revered traders association in Africa, the Onitsha Market Traders Association (OMATA). The market is secured by Onitsha Vigilante Services working under the auspices of the Nigerian Police Force.

The market has a wide array of nearly everything from second hand clothes to office equipment. 

Kejetia Market

It is located in Kumasi, the capital of Ashanti. Bordered to the North by Kumasi cultural center, the market has everything one may want to buy from a market including gold and diamond jewellery, footwear, spices and grains. It is also a great place to buy Kente clothing and fabrics. 

Maasai Market, Kenya

This open air market has a number of paintings, drawings, jewelry, clothes, wood carvings, sisal bags among others. Located in the city center behind Hilton, it attracts both local and international tourists alike. 

Also Read: Churches With The Best Architectural Designs In Kenya

Medina of Tunis in Tunisia 

The large colorful market is located in a maze of narrow pedestrian streets. The market offers a unique array of goods such as, carpets and leather and craft and souvenir shops.  

Makola Market, Ghana

The market is located in the capital city Accra and was constructed in 1924. It offers nearly everything from car parts, clothes, to food. It deals in both fresh produce and a variety of imported good. 

Khan el Khalili, Egypt 

For anyone looking for Egyptian souvenirs, this market located at the heart of Cairo is the best. They sell a number of products including spices, perfume, sparkling silverware, gold artefacts, handmade carpets, antiques and jewellery. This market which dates back to the 14th century is one of Cairo’s top tourist destination. 

African Craft Market, Rosebank, South Africa

Located in Johannesburg across Cradock Avenue, the market is filled with all manner of products. They offer an assortment of artefacts, beading, wiring, sculptures, gifting options and paintings that reflect on the heritage of Africans. The market was established in 1993 and is open 7 days a week. The range of arts and crafts in the market are from different countries of Africa including Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Cameron and Congo.


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