Director of Sales for Africa, Mark Schmidt, dispels a host of commonly-held myths about the online gaming market
Outside of Africa, there are still many misconceptions about the nature of the online gaming industry on the continent.
For some European operators entering the market, the mindset is that Africa – arguably the most diverse continent in the world – can be treated simply as one enormous country. That approach can lead to first-world products being thrust into the developing world, without taking into account specific factors that would certainly be closely examined when strategising entry into newly regulated territories in Europe, for example. The one-size-fits-all methodology simply does not stick, and it is why we have seen some brands depart the market with their tail between their legs so quickly after entry.
When you are as deeply involved as we are, you also become attuned to myths being attributed to Africa. There is a line of thinking that African players are nervous about novelty and fearful of trying something new. Not only is this a gross generalisation, it is also patently untrue. In fact, Africa is at the forefront of innovation worldwide when it comes to the delivery of online gaming to suit user needs. You only need look at the average number of users each betting brand has across various countries to be presented with figures that would make European operators blush.
Right across the continent, operators are getting it right when it comes to player trust and, in turn, retention. In a world in which many retail betting outlets have been shut for long periods over the past year, African players have been entertained while at home not only through sports betting, but also by joining free-to-play (FTP) jackpot games, virtual products and casino offerings. Operators have successfully transformed themselves into entertainment hubs, rather than strictly betting providers.
Another element where Africa is playing a world-leading role is within payments. In Kenya, the use of mobile phones as payment devices is widespread; one survey last year found that in Uganda, 43 per cent of people had a mobile money account and in Kenya, the number was 72 per cent. While in other parts of Africa you can only deposit and withdraw to and from a gambling site using a bank transfer, which can take hours, in Kenya money can be moved into and out of an account in a matter of seconds.
A successful approach to online gaming in Africa entails listening to what clients and the market wants in a particular location and localising the offering accordingly, right across the spectrum – from products to UI/UX, payments, mobile and omni-channel solutions and bonusing, to name but a few key elements.
Localisation is crucial, with the differences between Kenya and Nigeria proving a good case in point. In Kenya, FTP games are hugely popular and players do not necessarily have to spend anything to enter contests that contain large jackpots. In Nigeria, where lottery has great appeal, there are certain virtual games that are must-haves for operators.
At Pronet Gaming, we take a consultative sales and business development approach to any new client, in any new country. Our clients play an active role within our approach and we listen to them and adapt to their needs. We also have a very strong executive and product team. This provides us with the edge over our competitors in the region in terms of knowledge, while also positioning ourselves strongly in being able to listen to and respond quickly to needs on the ground. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to understanding the landscape across this wonderful, complex continent.