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Sub-Saharan Africa's Gaming Industry Projected to Surpass $1 Billion by 2024
An insightful report sheds light on the promising future of Sub-Saharan Africa's gaming market. The industry shows particularly strong growth in the area of mobile gaming.
Sub-Saharan Africa's gaming industry is poised to generate over $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2024. These figures, compiled by Dutch research firm Newzoo for African gaming startup Carry1st, highlight a thriving market for gaming in Africa, despite the region's struggles with economic growth, inflation, financial challenges, and high net debt.
While Sub-Saharan Africa's economic growth rate declined to 3.6% in 2022 from 4.1% in 2021, according to the World Bank, the video game market in Africa has been flourishing. In 2022, game sales in the region generated $862.8 million in revenue, reflecting an 8.7% year-over-year increase, as per Newzoo's data.
This growth in the African gaming market stands in contrast to the global contraction in video game activity, as the tailwind of COVID-19 lockdowns subside and consumers tighten their spending due to higher living costs. While the global gaming industry is expected to return to growth in 2023, with a projected 3.3% increase, the rapid growth experienced during the pandemic is unlikely to be replicated. The potential disruptions in user acquisition and changes in macroeconomic conditions pose challenges to the predictability of the mobile gaming market. Nevertheless, Africa's gaming industry continues to thrive, driven by the widespread adoption of smartphones and the region's young population embracing digital technology.
Cordel Robbin-Coker, CEO of Carry1st, based in Cape Town, emphasized the remarkable "underlying secular growth in the games market in sub-Saharan Africa." While acknowledging that COVID-19 contributed significantly to this growth, Robbin-Coker noted that other markets are now witnessing a slowdown and even a decline.
Additionally, the report focuses on ten major countries in the region, all of which experienced year-on-year growth. Nigeria and South Africa emerged as the leading revenue contributors, generating twice the revenue of the eight top countries combined. The other major countries include Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Angola, Tanzania, Cameroon, and Uganda.
In 2022, mobile gaming accounted for approximately 90% of total game sales, generating $778.6 million in revenue. Nigeria led in annual gaming revenue, with $249 million, followed closely by South Africa with $236 million. Kenya, Ethiopia, and Ghana also demonstrated substantial revenue contributions, with $46 million, $42 million, and $34 million, respectively. Ethiopia experienced the highest year-over-year growth of 13%, while Uganda had the slowest growth at 6%.
Cordel Robbin-Coker commented on the report, stating, "This latest data demonstrates that Africa continues to be the fastest-growing mobile gaming market in the world. This trend is particularly notable as Western markets are witnessing signs of slowed growth, and even decline." He further expressed Africa's potential to follow Southeast Asia's footsteps and become a major player in the global gaming industry, citing the significant increase in internet users and the rapid adoption of digital payments as contributing factors.
Tom Wijman, Lead Games Analyst at Newzoo, highlighted Africa's unique advantages, including the world's fastest-growing population and the rapid pace at which people come online, primarily via mobile phones. He emphasized the strong appetite for gaming content and underscored the importance of infrastructure improvements and the integration of digital payment methods within gaming platforms to further expand the African gaming market.
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