Monday, July 26, 2010

Not #firstworldproblems, revisited - Kalahari and African online payment systems

Back on July 16, I wrote a post about the difficulties that Africans encounter in doing business on the Internet. In passing, I quoted from African blogger Hash, who noted:

I haven’t been able to use PayPal for two months. I just got profiled for extra security measures on Facebook. I can’t make certain purchases from Africa. Few organizations ship goods to me here.

Let’s be honest; living in Africa, or being African, gives you a certain unwelcome aroma in the eyes of global corporations. Frankly, we’re just not trustworthy....

This isn’t new to any of us who live, or spend a great deal of time, in Africa. You’re blacklisted, given extra screening, and generally treated like a second-rate human. You’re not trusted, and you’re not worth the time to figure out if you can be trusted.

Hash then said:

First, we in Africa come up with our own payment and business solutions that work here first, and then interact with other global systems.

I surfed around to find such business solutions, and ran across Kalahari. To my eye it looks like Amazon - electronics, books, CDs, DVDs, and heaters and electric blankets (remember it's winter down there).

I was curious about whether this South African-based company would ship to the rest of Africa, so I checked the Terms & Conditions:

Kalahari delivers to addresses both within and beyond the borders of South Africa, save for the following types of products which will only be delivered to addresses within the Republic of South Africa:

* Internationally produced music;
* Items that weigh +10kg;
* Electronic and Audiovisual merchandise;
* Adult Products;
* Jewellery, Sunglasses and Watches;
* Dala Paint; and
* Flowers and Hampers.

Incidentally, my reaction to this list shows my cultural lack of awareness, since to me Dala is a band, and hampers are things that you put dirty clothes in.

Back to Kalahari. How are the items delivered outside of South Africa?

# African countries - delivery to a post office in such African country only;
# All other countries - via airmail parcel post or via courier (the costs of courier delivery usually being very high and determined on an ad hoc basis).

Regarding payment, Kalahari supports several payment methods, including credit cards, bank deposits, electronic funds transfers, and four other methods:

Standard Bank Autopay.



PayJar Express Pay.

Now I have no idea whether Kalahari and the listed payment services are big or small, loved or hated (although they appear to respond to all complaints posted at, but at least it's there.
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