Around the world, vinyl has been enjoying a resurgence, with growing sales and interest in the analogue format not long ago considered obsolete. A growing number of music fans and record labels are turning to wax, preferring the rich sound and ‘hands-on’ listening experience over digital downloads and streaming platforms.
It might therefore seem an opportune time to get back into the business of pressing vinyls. Fortuitous then, that arguably Africa’s last remaining intact record pressing plant, lying dormant since the early 1990s, has this week gone on sale on eBay.
Located in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, the plant was once owned by the now-defunct South African label Gallo, and is an amalgamation of equipment from a second press in Lusaka, Zambia. The Swedish-made Toolex Alpha press is still considered one of the leading automated record presses and can reportedly churn out as much as 100 records per hour.
Once part of a network of pressing plants in Africa, the Zimbabwean plant pressed local editions of international hit records for several decades, as well as for local and South African artists like Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. With the decline of vinyl and the rise of CDs and digital formats since the early 90s, the plant was mothballed – but thankfully not dismantled. According to a recent survey conducted by The Vinyl Factory, there are currently no active record pressing plants in Africa.
Interested in getting into the vinyl pressing business? This piece of equipment will set you back a cool £160 000 (or a little under $250 000). The owner will kindly help with shipping from Harare and even arrange accommodation and transport for potential buyers, but be warned: ‘no chancers’. Bidding on the press closes on 6 March. View the ad here.