Growth of eSports in Africa

Posted on November 27, 2017 12:53 am

eSports is taking over the Africa by storm with new studies indicating that just under 12 million Africans are watching esports. With games such as League of Legends having a population of more than 5 million players regionally, it’s hard for African countries not to notice the presence of such a force. The report tells us that around 1% of Africans have engaged with eSports on some level.Furthermore, 5 out of 10 in this group of Africans have expressed a desire to engage again. This is partly due to the rapidly growing popularity of eSports over the past two years. Thanks to big investors, eSports has been able to expand here and its success is starting to replicate the scene in African countries, including South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria. eSports is already a big industry in South Africa and draws in enormous crowds at every event, both in person and online.This huge market has grown in Africa in just a short time. Just how regularly fans or spectators can watch eSports is inherently limited by a few factors. For example, just as any other sport has off seasons and on seasons, so does eSports. In Africa, over the course of the year tournaments and matches are held in small bursts, eventually working up to the grand finals in the last few months of the year. The number of different teams or games people watch, as well as how dedicated they are to watching them, affects when and how often they view eSports online and in person. This is reflected in the report, as only 35% of those who watch eSports in South Africa, Morocco and Egypt watch on a weekly basis, followed by 24% for monthly views but that number goes down when it comes to Nigeria where weekly viewing is at 31% and 19% respectively.With prize pools ranging in the thousands of dollars, the sheer magnitude of such events surpasses all realm of expectations especially to those unfamiliar with the eSports scene. Luckily in recent years, Africa has also seen a steady growth in the eSports scene. With events being organized, eSports enthusiasts will always have something to look forward to each year.Though big eSports events are always attention grabbing, let us not forget that it is the small routine events which helps build the fundamentals of eSports. In South Africa and Nigeria, new users are always supported by nearby local offline events on a weekly basis as to quench their thirst and appetite for the game.What’s even more interesting now is that even in the collegiate level, new initiatives where eSports club are being setup in local universities have also signed up.

With such initiatives and events being done in South Africa, it’s hard to deny that in a few years time, the country’s eSports scene will grow strong and proud. Perhaps just as South Africans are proud of their Springbok team, maybe soon they will proud of their national eSports team. Various studies by the market research firms involved with African region in 2017 have shown that, out of all the viewers of eSports, younger people specifically males are the keenest on the new sporting spectacle. Close to a quarter 26% of people aged between 17 and 23 in South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco have watched eSports, compared to the much lower 1% of people aged 45 and above. People who are considered heavy gamers are the most likely to watch eSports on a regular basis, with 78% of heavy gamers watching eSports at least monthly in South Africa and Egypt.This also points to how viewership may develop going forward with the industry. This research has indicated that 3 in 8 viewers is interested in watching eSports in the future. Younger age groups are the most enthusiastic about watching a match sometime down the line, with 5 in 10 expressing interest, compared to only 7% of those aged 50 years and above.On the other end, only 22% of African adults in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are even aware of eSports in any form, which means that only a third of those who are aware have ever watched eSports. In terms of awareness of eSports, both as a sport and a form of entertainment, African countries are are ranked poorly in the world. As a region, Africa has a room to grow and there’s always a chance for eSports to pick up exponentially in the next few years.The report shows there is an appetite for eSports in African. A solid proportion of existing spectators in countries like South Africa and Morocco are reasonably enthusiastic about watching again and the scale of viewership in Egypt and Algeria show how it could potentially develop in the rest of Africa.As the viewership expands and grows so does the industry as a whole. eSports is set to grow and African countries are set to be big competitors overseas as teams from the region will have more access to better resources and coaches. It would be amazing to see African countries come out on top against other countries in international tournaments. With the level of growth and commitment in countries like South Africa and Morocco, countries may be getting closer than those who see Africa negatively think.

Contador Harrison