This article is contributed to TechCabal by Conrad Onyango/bird story agency
From consoles to smartphones, Africa’s growing, tech-savvy population is driving significant growth in the multi-million dollar gaming industry as increased adoption of digital currencies and blockchain technology takes African gaming to the next level.
Just over five years ago, African gamers were mostly playing games on consoles and personal computers at either cyber cafes or gaming joints, with very few people enjoying the games – most of which were foreign creations – at home.
Fast forward to 2022 and smartphones are the new primary platform and you can play your favorite game anywhere, with most characters, assets and even languages adopting African characteristics.
The number of gamers on the continent has also more than doubled over the past five years and the growth of the gaming industry in all aspects is taking an upward trajectory.
Developers customising game to fit the African narrative
Developers are fast adding new elements, with ownership being the latest addition allowing gamers to own characters and assets within the games- leveraging on block chain technology.
Usiku Games Africa, a Kenyan based Social Impact gaming company is pioneering the new era of blockchain gaming in the country where the rising number of tech-savvy youth could soon start earning from the industry boom.
“We are looking at ways of having financial mechanisms built into the games where people can either earn or spend in a more transparent manner,” Usiku Games Founder and CEO, Jay Shapiro told bird in an interview.
Under this new model, while gamers will still enjoy the thrill in gaming, they will not be able to directly cash-out earnings like in gambling.
Instead an enforced savings mechanism has been developed to redirect the earnings towards long-term saving instruments like pension schemes, health, and education insurance- helping to shore up low savings culture among youth in Africa and build up their financial resilience.
“The reality is that even if you have a job or an income, a little bit of savings maybe, all that may be washed away by say a pandemic, climate change or injury in the family,” said Shapiro.
South Africa takes the lead
A 2021 study commissioned by Newzoo, a games analytics company and Carry1st, a South African gaming platform, shows the number of gamers has risen to 186 million people from 77 million in 2015 in Sub-Saharan Africa.
With 24 million gamers, South Africa tops the continent having 40 percent of its population playing followed by Ghana (27 percent) and Nigeria (23 percent) in second and third places respectively.
Kenya and Ethiopia finish fourth and fifth largest gaming markets in the continent with 22 percent and 13 percent of their population into gaming respectively.
Majority of the playing population (95 percent) are mobile gamers with Covid-19 pandemic and increasing digitization across the continent said to be the biggest drivers to the numbers.
“Gaming in Africa is exploding. Crucially, this applies not only to people playing games, but also those willing to pay as well,” said Carry1st CEO and Co-founder, Cordel Robbin-Coker.
Crypto adoption and gaming in Africa
Already, 63 million of the 186 million gamers, pay for games with these African figures projected to be the fastest-growing in the world as the continent also begins adoption of digital currencies.
Another research by Newswagg’s points to a growing appetite for trading in gaming assets using digital currencies with 38 percent of 41.9 million gamers owning crypto across the world being millennials aged 21-38 years old.
Africa and the Middle East have a combined 5.9 million gamers owning Crypto, with a potential to shore up these numbers in Africa given that the continent will have one of the largest youthful populations by 2050.
According to Newswagg’s, 80 percent gamers with crypto accounts are interested in using digital currency for gaming purchases, with 67 percent yearning for an opportunity to use cryptocurrency in gaming.
“There’s an immense potential for crypto to be more involved in the gaming industry,” says the report.
Global crypto gaming was valued at 321 million US dollars in 2020.
Nigeria has leaped ahead of its African peers in adoption of cryptocurrencies following the launch of Africa’s first Central Bank-backed digital currency- the e-Naira in 2021.
While Kenya is yet to launch its own regulated digital currency, it tops the world in peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trade.
South Africa is currently in the piloting stage of its project, Dunbar- that will support cross border payments with Mauritius getting closer to piloting now in the development stage.
Six other African countries including Tunisia, Ghana and Morocco are still conducting research on regulated digital currencies.