Jan. 27, 2023

Why You Should Pay Attention to Esports in Africa

Why You Should Pay Attention to Esports in Africa

Competitive video gaming in Africa has significantly seen a rise in gamer subscriptions. Statistics from a study carried out in 2021 by Newzoo and Carry1st, show that there has been a rise in gamers in sub-Saharan Africa from 77 million (in the year 2015) to 186 million. A positive if you ask us, seeing that there has been drastic change from consoles and personal computers being exclusive to a few households, as well as in “carefully positioned” gaming centers around neighborhoods. 

Young children and teenagers made up the majority of gamers and they played just a handful of games in a limited amount of time. Now however, there is the involvement of young and older adults, actively participating in playing as well as the creation of the games, improving on the gaming industry chapter here in Africa. 

Ghanaian Children at Pageline Games

Ghanaian Children Gaming at Pageline Games | Image Credit: Pageline Games

The study goes on to reveal the top five countries in Africa who make the gamer populace, and they are South Africa topping the continent with 40%, Ghana (27%), Nigeria (23%), Kenya (22%) and Ethiopia (13%). Africa has a 60% population of its youth under the age of 25, making it a big opportunity for esports companies to tap into the potential. 

Nigerian Gaming Center Taken By The Guardian Nigeria

Image Credit: The Guardian Nigeria

Now with numbers like these, one would wonder, "If these are the countries noticeably involved in the esports chapter, then why are we not having more countries sign up?”. This is due to some of these international gaming platforms still not recognizing Africa. With the exception of countries such as South Africa and Egypt, platforms like Xbox and PlayStation do not provide the Africa option in region selection; gamers are pushed to use loopholes in making these registrations work before they can get onto the platforms to play the games and access other related services. This challenge goes as far as affecting eligible candidates from representing their countries in tournaments representing their countries in tournaments.

Thabo "Yvng Savage" Moloi Taken By Red Bull South Africa

Thabo "Yvng Savage" Moloi - FIFA: Red Bull South Africa | Image Credit: Red Bull

A bit of a downer that is, but this does not mean that Africa is not putting in the work! Out of the 186 million, 63 million gamers are willing to pay for games, using digital currencies, and with the emergence of the Kenyan-based social impact gaming company, Usiku Games Africa, blockchain gaming will help tech savvy youth to earn big from the industry. It is still a work in progress with direct earning or cashout systems, but the gamers will still get to enjoy the thrill and spend transparently. 

There is also Nodwin Gaming, a gaming organization from India currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, helping to expand the territory of esports in Africa, into the English speaking markets and then that of the French speaking markets. They intend building esports places to foster more collaborations as well as establish an ecosystem of esports in these target markets. At the moment they have managed to launch online tournaments for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), with qualifier events such as the Inkosi Super Cup and Umzansi Esports League

Issues such as internet connectivity, sponsorships and gadgets are what make the representation of Africa difficult to achieve on the competitive level. African gamers are disadvantaged in these areas hence traveling to participate in tournaments. 

In the future, we look forward to seeing some and more of these gaming companies offer solutions like Ubisoft has with South Africa by bringing in their servers to help gamers participate in online competitions. Still more room to improve in the areas of broadband connectivity by internet service providers, and a large representation on the Global Esports Federation, going beyond just having South Africa and Egypt in there. 

A promising future for the esports industry here in Africa, and we do look forward to meeting more of the speculations with regards to revenue and gamer participation. 

Esports has helped create jobs for lots of people. Interested in knowing about the business side of esports? Listen to the Gamers Change Lives Podcast! We get experienced guests from all around the world featuring.

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Written By Jeffrey Osei-Agyeman