Given that there is a pool of buyers/prospective tenants that do not use the internet, the estate agents in Abidjan do actually add value to the sellers/landlords by providing access to these non-internet savvy buyers. They also add value to the seller by the traditional estate agent tasks of managing communications with all incoming prospective buyers/tenants and showing the property.
For internet-using buyers such as myself it can be a bit annoying that it is the buyer that pays the estate agent. However, one way of looking at it, is that the fee to the agent is like a tax on a transaction akin to VAT, where the actual cost is shared by buyer and seller regardless of who pays the tax. In a low trust environment it might make sense that it is the party that has to bring up cash anyway that pays the agent.