The African gaming industry is still in its infancy, with many not aware it even exists. However, that is rapidly starting to change as the sector overcomes barriers to entry, such as lack of connectivity, investment, and infrastructure, and it is set to burst onto the global gaming scene. As a result, not only have the number of gamers been rising rapidly but so have Africa-based gaming companies.
This is being driven by several factors and all point to an industry set to explode in the coming few years.
What has changed?
The African continent is the only global region where the youth demographic is growing. At present, the are over 200 million Africans under 35. By 2050, it’s predicted that those under the age of 24 will rise 50%.
This expansion of the game-loving younger generation is happening as 4G networks rapidly proliferate across the continent, and smartphones are becoming cheaper and more common. GSMA reports that at the end of 2020, 495 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa subscribed to mobile services, rising to a predicted 615 million, 50% of the population, by 2025.
At the start of 2020, a report by GameAnalytics found that the number of mobiles gamers rose from 1.2 billion to 1.75 billion (a 46% increase), in just three months, partly due to the pandemic. According to Newzoo, by the end of 2021, there will be 2.9 billion players generating US$175.8 billion. As Africa gets more connected and mobile technology continues to spread, its share of this vast market will accelerate.
Until recently, the continent’s gaming industry had been slow to meet the demand of the rising numbers of local gamers. But that is also starting to change. There are several game development hubs already established, and these are rapidly expanding. A recent report predicted that the African gaming industry would experience a CAGR of 12% between 2021 and 2026.
Currently, the region’s top development hubs are countries like South Africa, Kenya, Algeria, Uganda, and Nigeria. In South Africa, for example, industry revenue is expected to rise from R3 billion in 2017 to R6.2 billion next year. A BBC article in 2019 reported that Kenya’s video games industry was valued at over US$50 million and was expected to double by 2021. These markets are growing fast.
Game development is spreading to new regions
As demand grows, more countries are seeing game companies spring up. A great example of how new companies develop and appeal to the young African market is Qene Games Inc., the first gaming studio in Ethiopia. The founder and CEO of the company, Dawit Abraham Weldeselassie, had always been a keen gamer, coder and always wanted to play something that reflected his background.