Africa, the new eldorado of the esport ?
Updated: Aug 14, 2019
At a time when the video games's entertainment industries are generating more and more astronomical revenues, the sector is increasingly intriguing in Africa, a continent where eSports is taking its first steps.
In Dakar, on May 12, 2018, was held the last day of the Seed Hoop Forum, an annual event bringing together companies, non-profit organizations and other actors using basketball as a means of development in Africa. Today also marked the 20th anniversary of the Seed Project Foundation, which runs the first official NBA academy in Africa, based in Thiès , a senegale's city.
At a time when the sports industry is being digitized, the debates have naturally turned towards sport. The NBA, for example, has made competitive entertainment industries the next growth driver for its brand. In early 2018, the North American Basketball League swore allegiance to no fewer than 102 professional players who will defend the NBA crest on the NBA2K video game. The new NBA sportsmen will now be using video game console controllers instead of balls, and their value is not inferior.
The NBA has initially planned a budget of $35,000 per head to cover the needs of the selected players for the first 6 months. This is not surprising given the gold mine represented by the esport sector. The sector will reach $2 billion in value in 2022, said Eric Mickoto, a Gabonese entrepreneurial player. This explains the efforts made, even by video game publishers, to satisfy the widest possible audience.
In this regard, we can mention NBA Live 19, which plays the gender promotion card by integrating in its career mode the possibility of playing with a female character. This title also tries to seduce French players by highlighting the Paris destination, by adding the possibility of playing a simulation of Quai 54, the famous world tournament of Street Basketball and Urban Culture organized since 2002 in France. It must be said that the stakes of competitive video games are enormous, both for publishers, brands and players as well as for event organizers.
For Kofi Sika Latzoo, a Gamification Consultant certified by the German government and a professional in the sector, with 74 esports events already organized in Africa, including two African qualifiers (Senegal and Togo) via semi-professional gaming communities at the World Competitive Video Game Championships (WESG 2016), organised by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. For him, it is out of the question that Africa should miss the boat of this digital transformation of a digital culture that generations Y and Z know well, because in the rest of the world, the enthusiasm for the discipline already seems to be taking hold.
A few months ago, few people noticed the symbolic moment, during the opening of the Pyeongchang Olympic Games, when the Korean eSport KT Rolster team carried the Olympic flame, announcing to those who did not yet know it that the sports video game discipline was now claiming its place on the Olympic agenda 2030. On 21 July, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) hosted an eSport Forum at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.
In addition, the major brands are constantly enthusiastic about the sector.
Indeed, they have invested $964 million in sponsoring sports events over the past year, says Gaël Boukossou, a financial engineer in the banking sector who is interested in the esport economy in France.
This is enough to arouse interest all over the world. Sports leagues and federations are being created all over the world and the sector is beginning to emerge in Africa. But for the continent to benefit from this trend, African nations should follow emerging models such as Brazil's.
The Brazilian example : the GameXP
In Brazil, from September 6 to 9 - 2018 , players were able to enjoy the world's first video game park at the #GameXP event. The Rio Olympic Park was transformed for the occasion and hosted several esports and sports tournaments, an agri-food hackathon, the world's largest giant screen and several activities around the world of video games. The economic impact of the event was enormous. Game XP generated more than $13.5 million and created more than 1000 jobs according to data from Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) and the Brazilian Ministry of Culture. Of this total, US$9 million has a direct impact and involves expenses for accommodation, food and transportation. The remaining $4.5 million relates to the activities of suppliers affected by the event. These figures confirmed the leadership of the Brazilian authorities who would consider investing $100 million in the specific creative industries of audiovisual and video games.
The Brazilian fervour and Game XP figures should inspire Africa to seize the opportunity. These potential revenues from esport reflect an alternative to traditional economies and illustrate the impact of the creative industries economy that is pushing the continent to rethink its orientations in a geo-financial configuration that is beginning to run out of steam.
Servan Ahougnon, Correspondent in Benin for #Gamecampcities