Roundtable: Bobby Longhurst Speaks to G3 About Africa in Lockdown

CCO, Bobby Longhurst, discusses the performance of gaming in Africa under lockdown

How has gaming performed in Africa under lockdown, and how do you see it impacting the future of the African market?

Betting and gaming has had a particularly tough time in Africa during lockdown, but if there is a positive to be taken from recent months it is that the industry is now in no doubt as to what it needs to do moving forward. Much has been made of the rise of mobile on the continent, and growth rates remain very impressive. Yet retail still rules the roost in cash-focused economies wherever you look. As a result, the closure of shops and the loss of live sport produced a perfect storm through which many countries are continuing to navigate.

Whilst in Europe and Asia online eSports, casino and slots have filled the gap, the lack of a widespread mobile alternative has hampered a similar recovery in Africa. The perennial issue is mobile data. In Nigeria – where, according to the World Bank, 68 per cent of the population survives on $1.25 per day – the cheapest pre-paid data plan is approximately $0.30 for 50MB. It’s therefore pretty fanciful to think that sports-starved customers will turn to data-rich slots with immersive graphics, or heavy virtual content.

On a more positive note, eSports has seen an uptick, with fans now able to back their favourite Premier League teams through fixed odds betting. Numbers betting – and lucky numbers games in particular – are also very popular and operators are increasingly looking to include them in their mobile offering. At Pronet Gaming, we recently teamed up with ESA Gaming to offer high-performing HTML5 gaming products that have a strong focus on mobile without being data-intensive. We’ll also be making an announcement shortly about utilising more realistic alternatives to traditional web browser and operating systems such as Opera Mini. There are alternatives to retail out there, but to loosen its grip and to prevent events like the recent pandemic having such a negative impact in the future, a thoughtful approach that takes into account the nuances of each individual market is essential.

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