Can esports thrive as a sector in Nigeria?

Can esports thrive as a sector in Nigeria?
In recent times the gaming industry has seen a massive growth gaining as much as $300 million dollars in revenue as well as having a platform that has surpassed the likes of Netflix and HBO.

Original post by @Gbenga_Aderemi_Willi

While your question is generalistic in nature, it’s important to keep in mind that eSports encapsulates a spectrum beyond just gaming. Nonetheless, the direct answer to your question is YES!

However, if we look at it from how it’s thrived so far in other climes, the answer will be a NO!

So how has eSports thrived in other climes? Traditional sports: football (or soccer), Formula 1, basketball and combat sports have over many years driven increase in fan following and engagement.

Essentially, traditional sports is the base for eSports to thrive. In Nigeria so far, one factor that will help is social media in terms of creating the buzz (awareness)


You’re absolutely spot on.

Gaming market as whole is probably the most underrated industry in the world. Global market size for gaming last year was over $565 billion. For context, cross-border remittances recorded globally was around $700 billion that same year, but with significantly more buzz.

The overall gaming market consists of eSports & Fantasy, Sports Betting, Casino and some other niche segments.
eSports alone was over $150 billion last year.

There are definitely huge opportunities for startups to go into the gaming industry.
But, I guess startups in Africa are still largely building solutions to solve our underlying problems (painkillers), with time, more people will start identifying massive opportunities in these other fields (vitamins).

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I disagree that eSports won’t thrive right now in Nigeria and Africa at large though.
I came across a report recently that shocked me on the behaviour of Nigerians around gambling.
I can’t lay my hands on it right now, but I think roughly 6 of the top 20 most visited websites in Nigeria were sports betting sites. With bet9ja in the top 3.
This is a similar case in other African countries.

Covid19 also accelerated growth of eSports in Africa and globally as well. Most sports were on break and eSports, Virtual Casino etc soared. It’s just sad there isn’t enough data on this.

Based on available data though, sports betting alone is a $2 billion market.

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Sports betting thrives because of traditional sports not because of mere emotions. Consider this: remove traditional sports from the equation, what do you have?

Call of Duty as a game has been for quite a while. It was played in living rooms and bedrooms. Then it went beyond the home thanks largely to the internet with competitions introduced into the mix. From what I can tell, Call of Duty followed the principles outlined in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller, “The Tipping Point”.

The same principles [of the book] applied to NBA 2K which thrived on the back of the NBA and its players.

Globally, Covid-19 perceptively, accelerated the growth of eSports because it was already on that trajectory (growth in what sense, we should ask).
eSports would have grown faster without the Coronavirus (which has been nothing more than a catalyst) because of its connection with major traditional sports across the world.

It would interest you to know that over 60% of Nigerians say they knew about eSports in spite of COVID-19 (ongoing survey). When Covid-19 is out of the picture, what is next for eSports?

eSports will thrive in Nigeria and Africa, no doubt. What would be the catalyst for its growth on the continent, is the real question? How fast will the growth happen? What are the growth areas and factors?


This is a very interesting take.

In my opinion, the major barrier behind the growth of eSports in Nigeria so far is payments.
Most of the major global esports platforms don’t support local payments from African customers.
One of the recent trends that I’ve noticed has been the adoption of crypto as the primary form of payments for gaming platforms.

Gaming regulations in Africa and the bottleneck with payments are surely a factor.

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Payments is a “barrier” owing to one fundamental question: what is the structure of eSports ecosystem in Nigeria?

When this is addressed, there is no “major global eSports platform” that won’t review their policy to admit and/or support local payments from African customers.


So, it’s a lot more nuanced than that. I assure you that these gaming companies would jump at the opportunity to get onboarded with local payment partners.

For instance, our regulation in Nigeria doesn’t allow settlement of payments foreign accounts for entities that don’t have a Nigerian entity.
Essentially, most of these platforms would need to incorporate in Nigeria to get onboarded by payment companies. Then, there’s just the bad rep that gaming has built over the years that make them automatically classified as a high-risk industry and struggle with getting local payment partners, hence the adoption of crypto payments in gaming. Funny that I would come across this tweet just this morning, highlighting issues gaming industry faces. They are frozen out by default.

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What is making fintech thrive right now? Structure

What put many of our banks and insurance companies in a fairly good position today? Structure

Few years ago, Facebook wouldn’t accept local payment platforms. Today, the story is different. Structure helped to address this.

My area of influence is largely Sports (with Entertainment by the side). You probably know that Sports in Nigeria has deep-rooted challenges with maladministration, financial impropriety, corruption and a lack of transparency. Now that’s on the administrative side. There are issues of adequate training of athletes, coaches, right fit and skilled workers, overwhelming government control and little to no inflow of investment. The problems go on and on… BUT…

To concretely alter these challenges and more, we are working on the foundation; essentially, we are laying a whole new foundation for the Sports Industry. The inhibition to commercial growth is the absence of a structure and this is being addressed and we are gradually seeing the prospects of a vibrant sports industry.

If the entire gaming gamut is not addressed through proper structure, these issues you highlight will persist. The major eSports platforms you mentioned earlier won’t accept local payment from African customers because they really don’t know who they are dealing with. There’s probably no trust.

Identify who or what makes up the ecosystem; define the value chain from a Nigeria (Africa) point of view and you will see major differences.

Today, Flutterwave, Paga and Paystack are known and trusted by Visa and MasterCard owing to the fact that they know who they are dealing with; there’s a clearly defined process of payment and everyone gets what is deserving.


Wait o ! e jor o!

@AyowoleOA Last time i checked eSport is not same as Sports Betting o!

@IamTonte Now eSports itself does not require payment channels, basically you have teams that compete in a tournament (location could be a physical venue or virtual) streamed live online for some good price money. Reason why lobby for eSports teams to be considered traditional athletes and also a push to feature eSports in the Olympics.

For eSport/Gaming to thrive in Nigeria , we would need Fast Internet Connection, Uninterrupted Power Supply, a Thriving Middle Class and the rest we go handle. (see South-Korean, uk and Tokyo as case study)

The above does not apply to the Sport Betting industry to thrive Nigeria.

You see the difference?

Some pix of eSport tourney venues below