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African esports: Road to mainstream

Emmanuel Oyelakin, President of the African esports Federation sits down with SiGMA News and shares his vision for the esports boom in Africa

One of the regions responsible for this hike in growth is Africa, especially in countries like Nigeria where their infrastructure is better equipped to service content like this. We had a quick catch up with Emmanuel Oyelakin, President of the African eSports Federation to hear his thoughts on the future of this sector and why Nigeria has so much potential going forward.

How big is the appetite for eSports in Nigeria? Are there any other African countries leading the way in this area? 

esportsThe appetite is fast growing and even we are a little surprised. The main reasons for this are: 

- The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports earlier on in the year officially recognized esports as a national sport, elevating it to the same status as traditional sports like football, basketball etc which have crazy following here in Nigeria

- There has been a surge in the number of content creators, streamers, gamers, teams and tournaments in Nigeria. Young people are aggressively pursuing their dreams without the usual social stigma.

- We are seeing some of the biggest brands and organizations in Nigeria throw their weight behind esports in Nigeria. We recently held LECO 2020, Nigeria’s largest and most prestigious mobile esports LAN event - had the support and sponsorship of the Lagos State Sports Commission, the French embassy in Nigeria, TECNO mobile, Redbull etc. and was even aired on satellite TV. Furthermore, It was carried by some of the leading print media in Nigeria, some of whom were carrying their first ever esports story! A great indication of things to come.

- Other African countries also leading the way include Ghana, Senegal, Tunisia and Morocco. South Africa of course have been leaders on the continent for a while now, but the gap is closing.

What games or types of games are most popular?

That would be PUBG mobile, COD mobile, FIFA, FGC games like Tekken, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.

What are the best channels and most effective methods for engaging the eSports audience in Nigeria? Twitch, Youtube? Anything else?

For streaming, YouTube comes first, way ahead of Twitch in second place. Discord is the community engagement tool followed by Twitter. So for any operators out there hoping to build and engage online communities, Discord would be a more credible way to communicate with the players and earn their trust as an authentic eSports related brand in Nigeria.

How big is the appetite for betting on eSports in Nigeria and furthermore Africa? How do you think this appetite can be further developed in the future?

esportsNigerians bet on any and everything. They don’t even need to understand the system, however for a sustainable market to grow here, education must be made a priority, in order to build brand loyalty and trust. Esports is becoming more mainstream and it’s only a matter of time, maybe 12 or 24 months before it becomes widespread nationwide. With the awareness and publicity esports is beginning to have, many more people will come on board to try their chances at winning. We are already experiencing a major increase in interest for we have betting companies making enquiries on how they can create partnerships in our region and include live results of matches from our games. Mainstream exposure is just round the corner for African eSports so the time to invest is now!

Interview held by Curtis Roach. Roach has worked in the gaming industry since 2014 creating high level content for the industry. The majority of his time has been spent conducting in-depth research of the iGaming market and creating an invaluable network of industry contacts, enabling him to create highly topical and engaging content for both live and digital channels. Curtis has spearheaded content campaigns for some of the industry's leading events, content platforms and industry suppliers including iGB Live!, ICE Africa, Evolution Gaming and iGB Affiliate. Now a Content Writer for SiGMA, he is part of the driving force behind our exciting expansion into the African market. 

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