E-Sports And It’s Growing Influence In Africa

E-Sports And It’s Growing Influence In Africa

By Manny Akpan | News Reporter on December 18, 2018
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The Killer Angels, an all women’s esports club, training at Amazing Center / Photo credit: Killer Angels
The Killer Angels, an all women’s esports club, training at Amazing Center | Killer Angels

E-sports have been growing in leaps and bounds in Africa, despite a myriad of hurdles that face the otherwise enthusiastic players. The E-sports industry in Africa is ready to explode. Only a few infrastructural hindrances are holding it back. More people are becoming tech-savvy in remote African villages, something that was unheard of a couple of years back. There are a lot of Africans on e-sports social sites such as Esports.net.

Gaming consoles and other gaming devices are now reaching remote parts of Africa, and a good number of children are growing up with access to such devices. Some become very enthusiastic about the games and are able to master how to play the games with perfection. One critical infrastructure for gaming lacks in Africa, though: E-sports publication servers. This means the upload and download speeds are rather low for anyone playing games from Africa, and this particular factor tends to lock out many great African players from international tournaments.

A team arrives at The International to compete for Dota 2 championship at KeysArena, Seattle, US in July 2014 | Jakob Wells/Flickr
A team arrives at The International to compete for Dota 2 championship at KeysArena, Seattle, USA in July 2014 | Jakob Wells/Flickr
Growing Influence

E-sports are quite fascinating for young people all around the world. It is now quite common to find E-sports shops all around African cities, where youth pay a few coins to play a game. More privileged youth will have the gaming consoles in their homes.

South Africa and Egypt lead as some of the countries with a large e-sports market. KPMG reports estimated that by 2019, the South African e-sports industry will be worth over R3 billion. The number of gamers in Africa is rising every day. Many people start with gaming consoles that are not connected to the internet. A majority are still gaming with such consoles. The number of actual gamers whose consoles are connected to the internet is still quite impressive, too.

Youssef Mohsen is an avid e-sports gamer from Cairo, Egypt. He and his team have already participated in a couple of tournaments in Africa and the Middle East. He is, however, barred from getting into the global platform because there are no local publishers in his area.

The Killer Angels, an all women’s esports club, training at Amazing Center / Photo credit: Killer Angels
The Killer Angels, an all women’s esports club, training at Amazing Center | Killer Angels
Investment is Needed

The global e-sports industry is expected to be attracting 180 million people, and raking in $1.1 billion by 2019. Global tournaments have been going on for a couple of years now. These games involve national teams at times. African and Middle Eastern teams have been missing in action.

As mentioned earlier, the lack of African teams on the global e-sports platform is not a result of lack of talent or skill. The e-sports skills among youth in African cities is incredible. However, the whole continent is absent because of the lack of local game-specific servers.

Gamers in Africa have to rely on servers that are overseas. As a result, their ping is quite slow. They will not be able to engage in the global tournaments when the speeds are still low. Global game publishers such as Valve, Activision Blizzard, and Riot games need to consider investing in Africa.

E-sports entrepreneurs in Africa are working hard to build companies, teams, and tournaments. Support from the major players in the industry such as the mentioned publishers will certainly awaken this sleeping giant.

People like Mohsen who own e-sports gaming companies have been trying to get these stakeholders to Africa and professionalize e-sports gaming in Africa. His company trains players, and guides them on how to develop teams, and organize tournaments as well.

Building from Scratch

It is beginning to occur to people like Mohsen and other e-sports stakeholders that they need to build the industry from scratch. The video game publishers appear not to be ready to bring support to Africa and help African teams get involved. It would take time, resources and lots of effort, but it is certainly doable.

White Rabbit is a South African team that has had the privilege to compete in e-sports at an international level. They did so despite an awful ping, which ideally puts the players at a disadvantage. The founder of the White Rabbit, Alwyn Venter, said they would send the players overseas in the next season so that they are able to engage at the same level with others.

It is a good initiative that will ensure a couple of players are able to engage in a highly competitive level of e-sports. However, that is not a sustainable solution for the problems facing e-sports in Africa. There is no doubt that African countries have big enough market for e-sports. The global publishers probably need just to see an initiative that is convincing enough.

Professional gamers train at an esports center in Shanghai | Pengta Network Technology
Professional gamers train at an esports center in Shanghai | Pengta Network Technology
Large Tournaments

Kwese Sports, a sports content media platform in Africa has partnered with ESL to bring some of the World’s biggest esports tournaments to Africa. ESL is one of the biggest e-sports companies in the world. It is an industry leader, and its involvement in Africa will bring a lot of good to the African e-sports scene.

Kwese has been given exclusive rights to distribute ESL’s content in Africa. The agreement seeks to bring the first ever intercontinental e-sports tournament to Africa. Kwese will also launch a 24/7 e-sports channel, that will broadcast the live events.

That kind of an agreement spells good tidings for e-sports enthusiasts in the continent. Once it’s here, more and more people will become enthusiastic about it, and the market will grow even bigger. More global companies might want to get involved as well if the partnership between Kwese and ESL is successful. One thing is certain though; there are millions of gaming enthusiasts in Africa waiting to get involved in professional e-gaming.

Final Thoughts

Gaming is a form of recreation in Africa right now. There are a lot of skilful players that just enjoy being good at what they do. Turning the skills, and passion of such players into a career would do them a lot of good.

Global video game publishing companies need to invest in Africa. If they can’t do it soon, African stakeholders should get proactive and develop the games as well as the infrastructure needed. Professional e-sports gaming is still gaining momentum across the world, and Africa needs to catch up soon.

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