In Nigeria, eSports is no longer a game for kids. It’s a big business opportunity. South Africa, Egypt, and Morocco have long dominated Africa’s eSports scene, with smaller players like Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Kenya also making notes. But Nigeria has something that could make its neighbors envious – a large population of over 215 million and a growing number of eSports fans, especially among the youth. With a 48% broadband penetration rate recorded among its citizens, there is a massive potential for game developers and businesses to harness the emerging market. In the heart of Lagos, a state-of-the-art venue hosted the “Street Fighter,” “Call of Duty: Mobile” and FIFA tournaments as thousands of fans cheered players amidst an upbeat atmosphere.
Chief of Operations at Gamr, Kunmi Adenipebi, said that, although estimates suggest more than 60 million Nigerian players, they were certain there are at least 3 million. While live gaming competitions serve as a means of livelihood for some, it is not without its challenges, including pervasive poverty, power cuts, and poor network quality. For instance, equipment, including constant electricity supply, is expensive for the average Nigerian. Prior to the pandemic, only a few people were classified as professional players. However, according to Adenipebi, there have been more and more professional gamers since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Being a competitive gamer in Nigeria is quite arduous, as game servers for online gaming are hosted in Europe, North America, or Asia. Consequently, Nigerian players are often at a disadvantage because lag time between players and the system is longer, making it difficult to compete globally.”It’s so frustrating, you know that the guy is not as good as you” laments Akintoye Arogunmati, one of Nigeria’s best professional “FIFA” players, adding that players in the country have to deal with the nightmare of an unstable internet connection.
Despite these challenges, eSports potentially provides ample business opportunities for Nigeria’s youth and technological investors. Leading the continent as Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria aims to establish itself as a frontrunner in the global eSports industry in the coming years.