- Gaming Stakeholders in Africa laments the inability to attend SiGMA Europe
- Posits that Focus on Africa session does not reflect the reality of Africa’s gaming industry. Believes a workshop on Africa would have been a better idea
- Laments lack of information on SiGMA Africa three months to the event
- Sets agenda for SiGMA Africa
- Hail organizers for picking Kenya as the host country
The SiGMA train moves to Africa next year as the inaugural edition of SiGMA Africa takes place in Nairobi, Kenya between 1-4 March 2022. Noted for its safari life, Kenya was ranked Africa’s leading tourist destination by the World Travel Awards (WTA), thereby cementing its position as a preferred travel destination by international travelers. One of the most sought-after experiences for wildlife and nature enthusiasts is the Great Migration that takes place in Kenya.
The Great Migration is the largest herd movement of animals on the planet. The numbers are astonishing, with over 1.2 million wildebeest, 300,000 zebra and gazelle moving in a constant cycle through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in search of nutritious grass and water. However, predators including lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild cats, and crocs make sure only the strongest survive in this natural spectacle which is also known as ‘the greatest show on earth.
Regarded as the gateway to East Africa, Kenya has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa before the Covid-19 pandemic with an annual growth of 5.9% between 2010 and 2018. However, the economy of Kenya has since shown signs of recovery when some dynamism began to come back especially in the service sector, such as hospitality, and right now Kenya’s economy has grown by 6.1 percent in 2021 after a 0.3 percent contraction in 2020. Delegates to next year SiGMA Africa have the opportunity to experience Kenya’s Safari and wildlife activities first hand.
Meanwhile, have been inundated with messages by stakeholders in the region over the time allotted to Africa in the just concluded SiGMA Europe. They opined that for a company planning to stage a gaming event in Africa for the first time, a workshop would have been idle at SiGMA Europe. Devoting just an hour and a session to Africa with speakers talking on Cryptocurrency does not do justice to gaming in Africa. There are far more important gaming issues in Africa that can be discussed other than cryptocurrency.
Understandably, Africans have embraced the use of bitcoin, but limiting discussion on Africa’s gaming industry to crypto is an indication of a lack of understanding of Africa’s gambling market. For instance, Clarion Gaming, organizers of ICE Africa have been holding workshops during ICE London, holding different sessions and regional gaming events in Africa three years before hosting ICE Africa in 2018. Little wonder the inaugural edition in 2018 was a success as 1793 visitors from 79 countries including 23 African nations attended the two-day event.
Another point raised by the gaming community is the neglect shown by the organizers of SiGMA Europe towards those who wish to attend the event. Traveling in Africa is not as smooth as we have it in Europe and gaming stakeholders believe SiGMA didn’t show concern towards their plight as messages to SiGMA were replied late or not replied at all. They felt neglected, frustrated, and left in the lurch. On SiGMA Africa, stakeholders are constantly in search of information on the event, especially with the event getting closer every day. The event website aside from not being interactive does not provide vital information other than speakers, exhibitors, dates,s and little information on the host country. By now, the venue of the event and other information required by delegates has not been made public. Stakeholders in the African gambling industry have therefore found it difficult to make travel arrangements.
Meanwhile, industry stakeholders opine that the agenda for SiGMA Africa should speak directly to the issues of gaming in Africa. Regulation, marketing, affiliate marketing, safe gambling, women in gaming, lottery, casino, sports betting, funding, start-up, taxation, blockchain, fintech, and innovation are some of the topics that stakeholders will like to see on the agenda. A mixture of European and African speakers with deep knowledge of the African gaming industry, fintech, and innovation equipped with good analytical and public presentation skills should be paraded.
The choice of Kenya as the host of the inaugural edition was well thought out. Principally for four main reasons:
- Kenya and East Africa leads iGaming in the region
- Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda has the most developed Fintech ecosystem in Africa
- Kenya is politically stable
- Lastly, securing a visa to Kenya is easy and very fast
The East Africa region is clearly the leader in iGaming in Africa with Kenya at the forefront. A report published by Dublin-based research firm “Research and Report” indicates Africa’s iGaming industry is witnessing an increase in the number of millennials making use of mobile phones to place bets. According to the report, the eastern region in Africa is clearly the leader in the region with Kenya and Uganda at the forefront of the iGambling market in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sports betting is the most popular vertical in the gambling industry in Africa, especially football. Africans love football and the passion is further driven by the huge success of African players in European leagues especially in Europe’s elite leagues. One could make reference to Mo Sallah and Sadio Mane of Liverpool, Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nigeria’s Victor Osimeh, and strong Senegalese center-back Lalidou Koulibaly of Napoli to mention a few.
East Africa is arguably at the forefront when it comes to payment gateways, especially mobile money. It’s a known fact that East Africa has more financial inclusion than other regions in Africa. Mobile money has been in existence since 2007 in East Africa with its root in Kenya, regarded as the powerhouse of East Africa. For instance, Kenya in East Africa has 56 percent of its population having a bank account with a financial institution and 73 percent having a mobile money account. Nigeria on the other hand has 39 percent of its population having a bank account with a financial institution with only 5.6 percent having a mobile money account. However, this situation may change soonest with the continuous expansion of telecom companies such as MTN Africa and Airtrel Africa across the whole continent. The two telcos have obtained licenses to go into mobile money and Africa may soon witness a true pan-African payment gateway facilitating money transfers, deposits, and withdrawals when it comes to the regional iGaming industry.
In conclusion, Clarion Gaming has set a very high standard in Africa with the staging of ICE Africa twice in 2018 and 2019 in South Africa. They’ve opened up the gaming industry in Africa and have raised the bar when we talk of organizing gaming events in the region. SiGMA Africa can be commercially viable to the organizers but the gaming community in Africa must feel the positive impact of staging such an event in Africa. Hosting a top-notch event in Africa by SiGMA is not in doubt because they have the pedigree but organizers should know that they are coming into a new market and all hands must be on deck to make SiGMA Africa a success. Therefore, Africa gaming professionals expect nothing short of what they have experienced in 2018 and 2019 at ICE Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa.