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Study: Mobile gaming to have major market share in African gaming

By Fredrick Obura | December 5th 2020

According to the latest study conducted by ResearchAndMarkets, the gaming industry in Africa is forecasted to see a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12 per cent between 2020 and 2025. This is in line with general trends across the globe, where developing countries, in particular, are seeing stratospheric growth in the mobile gaming market. 

This increase in demand has been accelerated by two significant factors. Lower price points have made smartphones accessible for a larger part of the population. It is now possible to buy a smartphone with full features for well under Sh11000. Entry-level smartphones can be purchased for even less. 

Further, 3G and 4G are now widely available in many developing markets. Infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, has increased the coverage of 3G networks by 12 per cent, equating to roughly 80 million people.

This means that mobile gaming is no longer an option just for the comparatively wealthy. Once these barriers dropped, many African citizens were able to gain access to mobile gaming

For example, over 290 million people now use mobile phones in North Africa, a far larger figure than just a few years ago. This represents a $90 billion annual market, and similar figures are seen in other parts of the continent. 

Mobile gaming is, therefore, growing incredibly fast across all channels, and this is supported in the country-level statistics. In South Africa, for instance, mobile gaming’s year-on-year growth rate is the highest amongst media types, beating out podcasts, music, magazines, and books. 

Lockdown is a Catalyst for Growth 

Covid-19 has led to a significant boost in both the streamed entertainment and gaming industries. The shutting down of most social activities has acted as a catalyst for growth. 

This trend is exemplified by the seismic changes in the gambling industry, which is worth approximately $450 billion USD. The cancellation or postponement of popular sporting events such as Euro 2020, the Olympics in Tokyo, and England’s Premier League, has left punters with few live sports betting options. The closure of casinos further stifled demand for traditional gambling routes. 

The demand for gambling, however, remained strong. While traditional gambling establishments saw their profits crash to catastrophic levels, consumers moved their dollars to online alternatives. Mobile gaming, in particular, saw unprecedented growth.

Experts predict that even with the return to a semblance of normality, the changes are largely here to stay. And now, unlike before, when mobile casinos used to offer a lot less choice when it came to game variety, they have just as many games on offer for their mobile users as for their desktop users. Game variety and convenience will surely follow mobile penetration growth in the future.

Changing Demographics 

Another factor that is spearheading the growth of mobile gaming in Africa is the changing demographics. Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 60 per cent being under the age of 25. Specifically, over 200 million citizens are 35 or under, and it is exactly in this age range where both smartphone adoption and the popularity of gaming is at its highest. 

Experts predict that a population boom is due to take place in Africa in the coming decades. It is thought that those under 35 will reach almost 500 million in the next ten years. This will further increase mobile gaming’s market share on the continent. 

5G Implementation 

Furthermore, Africa should be seeing the effects of widespread 5G implementation. NewZoo recently compiled a report that predicts nearly half of all smartphones will be running 5G in three years. To put its speed into perspective: it can reach 10x of what is currently offered by its predecessor, 4G. 

Expect Further Growth 

The mobile gaming industry is now well on its way in Africa. There is still much scope for growth, however. Consider that 3.3 billion people live in regions that have 3G readily available, but are not actively using mobile internet. This ‘usage gap’ is significant, and all signs point to it being bridged in the next few years.

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