The gaming industry is seeing a constant rise in popularity and revenue, as estimates show that the market generated $177.8 billion in 2020 – a rise compared to 2019, despite a global pandemic. That does not come as a surprise, seeing as how gaming is exactly what many people turned to in order to make the lockdown more bearable.
Furthermore, as the world’s youngest continent, with a median age of 19.7 years in 2020, it’s only normal that Africa is a rapidly growing market in the gaming industry. This striking growth means that the continent is the prime location for all sorts of companies in the field, from mobile operators to sports bookmakers all the way to video game developers.
Africa has many countries that are on the rise when it comes to gaming, such as Algeria, Nigeria, and Morocco. While in 2018, Egypt was leading the pack in terms of the biggest gaming market with $293 million, South Africa is catching up and seeing significant growth in the last few years.
So, what does that mean for South Africa and the whole continent? Read on to learn more.
Technologies that are facilitating this growth
For starters, the introduction of 4G made it easier for individuals from Africa to engage in gaming activities. While the roll-out of this technology was a bit slow, most countries are now covered, meaning that the internet connection is faster and more stable so that various kinds of games can be played.
However, only two countries in Africa have 5G, and South Africa is one of them. According to data, South Africa has the best average speed for mobile internet, 44.80Mbps, while it is also third on the continent when it comes to the fixed broadband category. As fast internet is a necessity in this day and age, the country has placed itself in a great position to improve its gaming market.
Additionally, smartphone penetration is another big factor that plays a role here. For example, in 2018, South Africa saw 81.72% smartphone penetration, a 43.5% increase from 2016. Besides smartphones being more accessible, mobile phone plans are also more affordable, meaning that citizens don’t have to worry about breaking the bank when they want to use some data on their phones. With a wide array of devices available, players have all sorts of games to choose from.
The growth that South Africa is experiencing is attributed mostly to two niches of the gaming sector – iGaming and eSports.
While the situation when it comes to online gambling in South Africa is a bit complicated, this sector is still thriving. For example, betting on sports games online is allowed and there are many providers that local punters can turn to. A report by the National Gambling Board states that there are 266 betting companies and 971 betting operators in South Africa. All of them have to be licensed by the province they are located in, as well as the National Gambling Regulator.
Statistics also show that about 50% of citizens aged 18-40 regularly bet on sports, while the majority of South Africans make bets at least once a month. Moreover, on average, players bet anywhere from $12 to $15 on a daily basis, and they prefer betting on just one event but with high odds.
On the other hand, casino games are a bit more restricted. There are only 38 land-based casinos in the country, while operating online casinos is strictly prohibited. However, just because owning and operating an online casino within the country’s borders is illegal, it doesn’t mean that citizens can’t and don’t look for out-of-state websites where they can play casino games like slots, roulette, poker, or blackjack. Moreover, they are fully free to indulge in these games, as they will not be prosecuted by the country’s authorities.
Consequently, with such a wide array of options available, players are always on the lookout for providers that offer playing online casino games for free, especially those that offer no deposit bonus coupons and similar promotions that don’t require them to put any real money on the line before they familiarize themselves with the games.
The other important sector that is contributing to South Africa’s rise in the gaming market is eSports. While multiplayer online battle arena games like League of Legends captivated PC players for years, now mobile games such as Brave Legends and Arena of Valor are attracting more players than ever before.
Even though most of these games are free to play, many of them require in-game purchases that allow players to customize their characters and developers to earn money. According to Newzoo, 20.3 million South African gamers have spent $210 million on games in 2019. As South Africa is the only country with local servers for some of the most popular games, this sector is expected to grow even further.
Seeing as how technology is only expected to get better and more affordable, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that South Africa is in a great position to become the largest gaming market on the continent. Whether it will overtake Egypt remains to be seen.