The rise of eSports in Africa


WHAT if I told you you could become a millionaire after staring at a screen for a few competitions and moving your fingers intelligently on the controls? Even though, in a nutshell, it boils down to teams behind computers attempting to win a game for prize money.

Although, as with any professional athlete, hours and hours of dedication, practice, and commitment are a requirement when becoming a pro esports gamer. There are rising stars emerging from every corner of Africa, the next mission is to create a welcoming and competitive atmosphere.

eSports is a code that is on the rise in Africa. It is an industry which requires nimble fingers, and cat-like reflexes that is rapidly accelerating in growth that coincides with a young population. The growing potential of eSports in Africa is astronomical, there are a number of disciplines (FIFA, Counter Strike, League of Legends, virtual sim racing) which captivate some pretty big audiences. The fast-growing infrastructure in Africa, with Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria leading the way, is moving to meet requirements to compete at the highest-level.  

Egypt and South Africa’s appearance in international competition seems an uphill battle yet, the push to meet trends and demands of the eSports world reveal a deep talent pool.  The talent being unearthed through the resilient practices lends itself to a rise in popularity, which means more prize money. 

The aforementioned nations have spotted this gap in the market and, joined by Kenya, lead the continent in revenue. This might not be such a bad idea in an industry that, more than once, has had more viewers than the NBA finals.

A big, big business

eSports have proven to be something that people want and look forward to watching, and it shows. The highest-viewed eSports event in history brought upwards of 60 million sets of eyes on online streams along with a prize pool of $1,370,520 for the victorious team. 

Household global names such as David Beckham (football), Lewis Hamilton (motorsport) and Micheal Jordan (Basketball) have bought stakes in the growing market. Not only has it been one of the best performing industries during a global pandemic, but has also sustained its growth over the years. According to a report by Statista, the eSports industry is expected to grow from the current $973.9 million to almost $1.6 billion by 2023.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic disciplines such as Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix have seen viewership numbers soaring on event weekends. Virtual Grand Prix races reached 21.8 million views on digital platforms at their peak. Fans have found an exciting way to interact with their favourite drivers (George Russell, Lando Norris, and Charles Leclerc on Twitch), and they love it.

What’s next?

Society has grown to recognize professional eSports players. With startups offering training and monetization options for players and viewers, we can expect the eSports industry to attain transcendent new heights.  

Upcoming African teams such as Anubis Gaming (Egypt), ATK Arena (South Africa), Bravado Gaming (South Africa) are looking to take on challenges staged in the US, Korea, or Europe. 

eSports has taken sports streaming by storm, and whilst still in it’s developmental phase the industry is seeing a chain of investors lining up with sponsorships. The vast and diverse reach of eSports is tailored to the growing technological ecosystem in Africa, and eSports is poised to take advantage.

The future of eSports is promising; maybe one day we can watch it at a local stadium someday.

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