Kobo expands to South Africa to compete against Kindle

Ebook retailer Kobo announced its first African launch Tuesday evening: The company is partnering with South African retail chain Pick n Pay to sell the Kobo Touch e-reader and ebooks. Kobo promises local content available in Afrikaans and English.

The Kobo Touch will retail for 995 rand (USD $114). Amazon (s AMZN) ships the Kindle to South Africa and it is also available in some retail stores there. The country’s ebook market is estimated to make up less than 1.5 percent of the total books market.

Pick n Pay, which also sells iPads (s AAPL), operates 847 stores in South Africa and 94 stores in other southern African countries like Botswana and Namibia, though the Kobo partnership is limited for now to its South African stores and will roll out among those gradually: “Pick n Pay’s general merchandise manager Paula Vieira said that the Kobo Touch would be available in 41 stores within a few days, expanding to 71 within a few weeks,” South African books website Books Live reported from the launch, with the Touch in “the majority” of the chain’s stores “within months.”

Books Live also reports that Kobo business development VP Todd Humphrey “said the company wants to own 50 percent of the SA ebook market within one year.”