An atypical move from the Raspberry Pi Foundation: The company manufactures the first Raspi models in Nairobi, Kenya. More are to follow.
Gearbox Europlacer is the first to manufacture the Pico board in Africa. (Image: Raspberry Pi Foundation)
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has recently started producing the Pico microcontroller handicraft board, which costs just a few euros, in Nairobi in East African Kenya. Other products such as the WiFi-enabled Pico W and the Zero 2 W are to follow. The boards produced in Nairobi are intended for the African market.
Outsourcing production is atypical for the Raspi company – the Foundation has brought most of the production to its home country Great Britain in recent years. There, for example, the Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer rolls off the assembly line. This means that the circuit boards and their components are assembled there. Most of the components are sourced individually from Asia, including Broadcom’s BCM2711 processor with 28-nanometer manufacturing technology.
Exceptions so far have been the Pico W, which Sony Inazawa makes in Japan, and the PoE+ HAT called Raspi module for a “Power over Ethernet” function, which Dongguan Taijie makes in China.
In Nairobi, the partner Gearbox Europlacer has now started production. According to Raspi boss Eben Upton, the company already had the necessary equipment for this. In a blog post, he explains the new production site as follows:
“Why are we doing this? As with moving production to Wales, it is a fortunate coincidence of self-interest and a desire to support electronics manufacturing in a country dear to our hearts. By bringing parts to Kenya rather than finished goods, we pay lower import duties and benefit from other government incentives; and by stocking components locally, we can respond more quickly to the rapidly increasing demand for our products in East Africa.”
The Raspberry Pi Foundation anticipates tremendous growth in Africa over the coming years: “I believe that within a few years, the African Raspberry Pi ecosystem will be on par with what we have collectively built in our more mature markets,” writes Upton.