During the East meets West track at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2023, VP of product at Carry1st, Mahmoud El-Azzeh gave a talk named “Africa: The next frontier in mobile gaming.” The talk covered insight into the mobile gaming market in Africa, which, according to the data shared by El-Azzeh, shows huge potential for the region.
As one of the fastest growing markets worldwide this presents a great opportunity for game developers and publishers alike. El-Azzeh commented that “What you may not know is that Africa is positioned to be a major player in the mobile space.” He went on to explain that the demographic in Africa plays a large part in this prediction as “It has a billion people under the age of 40 and there’s a demand for content in this region.”
El-Azzeh also highlights the comparison of the African market to how the South East Asian market appeared just a few years ago. A slide shown noted some key similarities between the two markets, such as population, with Southeast Asia having 547 million in 2010 while Africa had 545 million in 2020. Both also share similar combined GDP and financial inclusion with Africa actually showing a higher percent of smartphone penetration.
The region really deserves focus as it will only continue to expand over the next ten years.Carry1st's Mahmoud El-Azzeh
Challenges in Africa
Despite the use of smartphones in Africa, El-Azzeh does note that technical constraints are still an issue in the region as not many people will have the latest models of mobile phone and will likely have much slower internet connections. Despite this, El-Azzeh does also share that due to the young demographic, these users are keen to play and are always trying to find ways of making games work even on their limited tech.
In addition to this, again relating back to the young demographic, while there is certainly no lack of willingness to pay for games or entertain in-app purchases, because of the young age of many of the players, they may not have access to a way to pay.
To combat some of these issues it may be that for now experiences presented to this audience need to have a more tailored local approach and constraints such as internet infrastructure need to be considered as “Africa is the only region that still has 80% of users on 2G and 3G.”
Despite some of these challenges developers should take the time to understand the region's friction points and look ahead to the potential of the African mobile games market. “The region really deserves focus as it will only continue to expand over the next ten years,” El-Azzeh predicts.