State of the PC & Laptop business in Kenya


I have been shopping online for a new laptop to replace my aging 3rd gen processor HP laptop (You have served me well)

I’d like to upgrade to one with the new Kaby Lake processors and a GTX 1060 at least. (Cost ~$1400)

I have visited a few laptop shops in Nairobi and their lineups are depressing. The laptops on sale are at least 2 generations behind and you are lucky to find a laptop with a dedicated GPU.

And if that was not bad enough, the prices are ridiculously high.

Bright Technologies have a HP Omen laptop on sale for Ksh. 195,000

The same laptop retails for ~$1,295 (sales tax + shipping included) on the official HP website.

I can import the same laptop for around Ksh. 17,000 (Insurance + Customs + Air Shipping). They are obviously using sea shipping and bulking up which would greatly reduce the shipping cost per unit.

With that in mind, I am estimating they get to enjoy a margin of around Ksh. 40,000 which is absurd.

I get that they also have to deal with warranty issues but that does not explain the high cost.

Am I missing something? Is there no demand for high end laptops in Kenya?

Kenya’s Computer Retail Space is Far Too Broken

For a while after high school I worked at a shop dealing in high end devices. The demand is low and stock doesn’t move fast compared to the lower end of the market.


Would you say the stock does not move partly due to the high mark up prices?


My only price sensitive clients were expats and younger guys who had done their research. At that end of the market, majority will accept whatever price you tell them.


If you have someone going to dubai send them, I bought an i7 16gb 1tb for 990$ while the same was going for 160k in Nairobi


It’s not that there is no demand, these laptop shops do not have taste at all :persevere::persevere::persevere:

3yrs ago when I was shopping for a No-cd/dvd laptop (wanted a slim and sleek laptop), I coundn’t find any.

I had already identified what I needed (an Asus v500ca) and there was nowhere I could get it from. Tried to send a friend who was in Dubai to check for me but it was not available there too.

So I hopped on Ebay, found one with the specs I needed (i7, 8gigs ram etc) and shipped it. Used USPS and it did cost $80 for 3 days delivery from the US and for sure, the third day after shipping the thing had arrived at City Square by 10AM. That looked like 2 and a half days.

Went to pick it and guess what the taxes :joy::joy::joy:

  • Tax 16%
  • Duty 0% for new computers
  • Railway Levy (ya SGR na hata reli haikua imeanza :thinking::thinking::thinking:)
    *IDF 5000 bob
    *Government of Kenya tax 5000bob (because it exceeded 30,000bob​:expressionless::expressionless::expressionless:)

WTF is GOK tax??? Kwani VAT ni ya Somalia???

Reminded me a few months ago the same year had imported an item worth $30 and shipped via DHL. All those taxes and DHL told me GOK applies for goods worth 3000bob and above. How now???

So I ended up paying over 6000bob in taxes and etcs above kwa kitu ya 3K??? Ni vile sikua na otherwise and I really needed it.

Back to laptop. Hiyo mathogothanio yote nilipie si ni msoto pap???

Some guy kwa posta was like hii kitu ni ya bei sana. Kuja kando kidogo…:smiley::smiley::smiley::smiley:

Halleluhya. Gave him 3K and off I went :joy::joy::joy:


I have actually been buying most of my tech from abroad. Hizi bei za Kenya ni unreasonable.

@deewinc Mimi hutumia a forwarding agent that charges me per kilo and sometimes kuna insurance fee.

I don’t have to deal with taxes.


At that time the only ningeepuka nikama laptop ingepatikana Dubai. Could have used those Somalis to even ship for less. But ulipatikana US pekee. Unfortunately, those guys who evade taxes hawakua wana operate from that region. Now naona there is MallforAfrica na KenTexCargo.

Which one do you use?


Why good laptops we are interested in either sell expensive or aren’t stocked is that risk of stocking and taking months before a sale because there is no database somewhere that anyone in Nairobi interested can use to locate where one is. Second is those taxes, unless they get charged by weight like many importers do.

Third is the cost of keeping that capital engaged and reducing cash flow for the owner. Options for buyers such as you end up being Amazon or similar alternatives and then choosing your shipping based on how they arrange tax payments.


I have been using Kentex. I wanted to switch to Kote Cargo but they moved to NY from Delaware (No Sales Tax). Doesn’t make any difference now.

They also have a new policy for shipping laptops from USA.


So true. These taxes though. We have a very mean government. They had to introduce new taxes and burden them on importers. Nyinyi ndiyo mnapesa ya ku waste, limweni tax watu wakule nyama :joy::joy::joy:


I think PCs and Laptops can have demand locally,if there is a culture change.Most workplaces are already adopting BYOD and More university students are seeing the need to acquire these devices for work purposes.With more Government and business services going online as well as the growth of freelance online work and blogging locally,the demand will continue to increase.The Govt should consider removing the tax on these electronics to increase adoption and demand as well as adopt/enforce policies that encourage more people to adopt using these devices.Laptops an PCs will always have a value especially for work related purposes…If we can formalize more jobs in the economy,we can increase adoption.


Haha! The same govt that decided it was a wise decision to increase betting taxes to 50% (I think). The same betting companies that have been sponsoring local football teams.

Anyway, I get your point. How do they expect us to access these online services they keep introducing everyday?


Yep,this govt has issues…the problem is not the taxation,they can collect more taxes if they streamline the process of tax collection,plug those loopholes being exploited and reduce taxes on items/goods that have high volume…To grow tax revenues,they(KRA) can also focus on enhancing their capability to tax other growth areas that will be facilitated by reduced cost of Hardware,if smartphones are cheaper,more people adopt…they can increase taxes on areas like after sale services and repairs.


BYOD is a nightmare to scale up

That segment of the market cannot justify the need or the cost for high end computers.

Despite 16% VAT and 25% excise duty on used computers, “ex-UK” computers offer some of the most competitive prices in Nairobi. Taxation alone doesn’t cause the high markups experienced in other market segments.


Totally unrelated. tax free computers will totally improve production, with increase internet access and computers in the hands of millions, we can’t have a youth in Isiolo struggling with an income when they could be freelancing for a company in Nairobi, or beyond. Or even learning skills that can be beneficial to the local community in that area. There are many opportunities that can be felt much wider when an infrastructure item like computers and internet paired together get supported.


I was just trying to point out that our government is much more interested in increasing taxes instead of closing loopholes and streamlining the tax collection process.

It might be a while before we get tax free consumer computers.


I dont think we will get that anytime soon considering how much national debt we have to service in the long run…In fact i wouldn’t be surprised if VAT is increased by 25% on all electronics within the next 5 years.


With a strong Laptop (purchasing) guide - telling users what to bring or how it needs to be prepd before plugging into the corporate network - this can be scalable in a way. Phones are already BYOD and the policy is simple - Admin has the right to remote wipe your entire phone in the event of a breach. If you’re okay with that then carry on.

Admins just specify which devices are supported by BYOD work policy.


I wouldn’t want to be the sysadmin that will be forced to justify why the USB ports don’t work on the new laptops. Some of these ideas are difficult to enforce on the average office worker.