Raspberry Pi looks to set up African retail channel to make buying a mini computer there as easy as Pi

High shipping costs barrier to access for many of continent’s inhabitants


Raspberry Pi said yesterday it would be pushing to get its miniature computers into more shops across Africa, admitting that its presence on the continent was limited to a single approved reseller with commercial ops in a few countries in southern Africa.

Writing on the company blog, Ken Okolo said he had been recently appointed to focus on building a network of resellers and partnerships across industry and the education sector in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Cameroon, and Uganda.

Previously Raspberry Pi was available through a South African reseller with "some commercial operations" in nearby countries, but the rest of the continent was vastly underserved, relying on e-commerce sites like Amazon and their high shipping rates, to dispatch the product from other parts of the globe.

According to Okolo, this burden "undermines [the] goal of ensuring affordability and availability across the continent."

Last month the Raspberry Pi trading arm (not to be confused with the charity Raspberry Pi Foundation, which was founded in 2009 to promote the study of basic computer science in schools) received a £33m investment ($45m).

One key investor, Ezrah Charitable Trust, was founded by former Goldman Sachs vice president and Farallon Capital Management partner David Cohen in 2016 to focus "on the poorest of the poor, especially in Africa."

The company's sales are on track to exceed 40 million units across its product range thanks in part to increased demand during pandemic lockdown periods and the high-profile placement of units, such as on the International Space Station.

"Africa has seen an explosion of technological advances in recent years, with investors funding innovative businesses built around technology," said Okolo. He added that what stands in the way for Africans when it comes to tackling its challenges is a lack of equipment and tools.

The relatively inexpensive Raspberry Pi costs $35.

The World Bank lists Sub-Saharan Africa's 2020 GDP per capita at $1,483. ®

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