Even before the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the world nearly for the entirety of 2020, eSport betting was thriving. It had established itself as one of the fastest growing online ventures, recording exponential numbers over a short period. When other mainstream sports sectors were ruing the effects of the pandemic, eSport blossomed. Top established brands played a massive role in popularizing the sector, with Betway eSport among the biggest influencers.
Much of the industry’s growth has been analyzed in Europe, Asia, and America, regions seen as the biggest hubs for eSport. Recently, a panel of experts drawn from the sector discussed the rise of eSport popularity in Africa and its potential going forward. During the SBC Digital Summit Africa, the managing director of Paradise Game, Sidick Bakayoko, spoke about the continent’s position in consuming eSport.
“There are going to be a lot of changes in the way people can view video games and the way they can view regular entertainment.” Said Bakayoko. “I definitely think it’s going to have a positive impact on our industry, which is video gaming, as a whole. I think betting is definitely going to benefit from the new trends.”
Bakayoko spoke regarding the amount of growth witnessed even during the pandemic and how he feels the general betting sector is becoming even more prominent.
“For eSport betting to explode in Africa, you have to have the population and I think we definitely have the numbers, and you have a population that is growing, and you have a middle class population that’s growing. I can see a real big parallel between what you can see in Europe or in the US. What you can see here is just that it’s going to take a little bit more time, just like seeing the movie industry more than 15 years ago, which is now starting to work very well.” Remarked Bakayoko.
Douglas Ogeto, who is the CEO of Ludique Works, is of a similar opinion. He is optimistic that the African continent is on the right path towards creating its own eSport niche.
“In Ghana, we’ve seen our studio do a local version of what other countries will call poker. They basically took the card playing game and customized it to the local context and then made it a multiplayer game.” Said Ogeto. “This has been well received and with this kind of grassroots level, and local adoption of what works for the local economy, the local market will definitely see more games coming out that have an eSport element.”
Africa is yet to reach Europe and the US levels, but it cannot be underestimated. The consumption of eSport in Africa as seen across platforms such as Betway is encouraging. Awareness is high, and the numbers keep rising. According to Kwesi Hayford, the president of Ghana Esports Association (GEA), the continent is market-ready for gambling.
“We have known betting in gaming at grassroots, but we didn’t even refer to it as betting. It was between the gamers themselves. It’s called ‘loser pay and winner stay’ and when you go to the small game centres in Ghana, it is there.” Argued Hayford. “It is their form of betting, people bet on two players playing. They could bet and put money together and say ‘the winner who’s able to stay and play and the matches takes the money. The element of betting has been within the ecosystem in Africa.”
Corporate sponsors are already looking into the unexploited market in Africa, which means Betway and other players could be weighing options for expanded opportunities.