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iGaming Ethiopia: No hope or late bloomer?

Posted: Dec 01, 2022 10:50 Category: Africa , Online , Sportsbetting , Posted by Content Team

The impressive market prospects of key African countries, such as South Africa, Kenya or Nigeria, are well known to the iGaming community. However, most eyes tend to slide over Ethiopia as a viable option for market expansion. 

While this is to be expected because of the comparatively low numbers involved, smaller jurisdictions have their own appeal. Less competition means extra room for new operators to claim their share of the market. 

Plus, with regions such as the aforementioned setting the benchmark for African iGaming, Ethiopia now has an excellent template to follow. Although those key countries all have larger economies, they all have a similar love of sports and betting. So, over the next few years the market opportunities for this region could be significant.

Sustained economic growth

Although initial perspectives  will be mostly negative, there are some glimmers of hope for a fruitful future. It is one of Africa’s poorest countries. However, gross domestic product has grown at an average of 9.5 percent a year over the past 15 years, making it one of the world’s fastest growing economies, according to World Bank figures.

General poverty levels are decreasing, meaning more disposable income available for entertainment. The country aims to reach lower-middle-income status by 2025.

Many believe that success is still very possible for online betting in Ethiopia, but the road to getting there is a bumpy one. One of the biggest hurdles is in regard to internet connectivity.

According to recent polls, despite having one of the youngest populations in Africa, only 25 percent of Ethiopians are connected to the internet, with less than 40 percent of that demographic having mobile cellular subscriptions. This limits the online growth potential of gaming in the immediate future. But considering Ethiopia has the second-largest population in Africa, at 117 million in 2021, 25 percent still represents a significant audience.

Improving payment options

One of the single biggest hurdles for Ethiopian iGaming is the lack of viable payment solutions. However, recent liberalisation in the payments sector is creating more room for decentralised payment options, a great step forward for a country where it’s estimated only 38 percent of adults over 25 have an account with a financial institution, or mobile money provider.

Ethiopian authorities have recently declared a clear and decisive objective to update their policies going forward and improve financial inclusion. This refers to the liberalisation and privatisation of significant assets to boost economic activity.

Earlier on this year, the government made an official announcement of its plans to privatise the telecom sector. As reported by local media, the authorities said they are willing to sell a 49 percent equity stake in Ethio Telecom to help improve internet connectivity. Ethio Telecom is the sole provider of telecommunications in Ethiopia. If this landmark is achieved it will propel all sectors in years to come, and the gambling industry is no exception. 

International iGaming brands will continue to target the market due to its large youth population and stable economy.

Market movement

Although Ethiopia still has a lot of work to do before it can reach its full potential, evidence suggests that there is a bright future ahead for this region and it is just a late bloomer that will benefit from the blueprint set by its successful east and west African counterparts.

While land-based casinos and sportsbooks are legal, online gambling in Ethiopia is still in the grey-market stage of its development, meaning the door is open for operators to enter.

This is a trend we’ve seen recently as new game providers are tempted to dip a toe in. There are so far18 sites licensed to take bets in Ethiopia and a few of the better-known international sites are moving into the country. These include Betking, Habesha Bet, Betika, Vamos, Hulusports, Qwickbet and Harifsport.

Other encouraging market movement has seen BtoBet, the sports betting supplier subsidiary of online lottery platform provider NeoGames, move into Ethiopia after entering into a partnership with UtopBet. Also, Honoré Gaming, the innovative sportsbook platform and technology provider, has put pen to paper on a deal with operator NebirBet.

This shows companies see clear potential in this market and it will only get more competitive as time goes on.

Join SiGMA in Africa

Africa is a force to reckon within the iGaming sphere globally. It’s home to some of the fastest-growing markets and has a massive population that operators are not even halfway to satisfying.

The Nairobi expo sees SiGMA host operators, suppliers, affiliates, payment providers, legal entities and regulators, media outlets, and investors. Being the first time SiGMA will be hosted in Kenya, the experience is expected to be life-changing for all those in attendance.

For operators, suppliers, and financial service providers in Africa seeking an exhibition space in the event, book your space through [email protected]

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