In the last 5 years, the continent of Africa has made great steps forward in realising its true online potential. A region still largely dominated by retail channels, there’s still some way to go on the road towards online mastery but with countries like Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya making so much progression in this field, it’s hard not to get too excited about the future of this region.
We spoke with Gadi Shoshani, CMO of 10Bet Africa to hear his thoughts on the growing African prospect and what we can do as an industry to ensure strong, sustainable growth going forward.
The impact of Covid-19 means that there has been an increased shift to online gaming. Do you think online will completely take over or is there a way for the two channels to work in conjunction for effective player acquisition?
“Covid-19 was (and still is) a real game-changer in so many ways. Whether at work (the ‘Work From Home’ flexibility introduced in many workplaces) with the fast digitalization of services OR at home, our consumption habits have definitely changed.
“In many ways, we can look at the UK as a future model for Africa and deduce the answer to some extent.
“Considering the percentage of internet users in Nigeria in 2019 (@42%) is roughly what it was in the UK back in 2002 (@56%) and the fact that internet connectivity is spreading much faster today than it did 19 years ago – I would expect the market to continue co-existing for at least another 7-10 years.
“Although in the UK I don’t expect offline to disappear any time soon, it might get much smaller in Africa within that timeframe. The reason being, there is one main difference between the 2 markets – and that is the target audience.
“While in the UK the number of players in the 35-64 year-old bracket is substantial – and this is a big percentage of offline punters – in Africa the target audience is much younger and thus full digitalization could come much faster.
“Having that said, there are definitely ways for online & offline to not only co-exist but also grow together. One big way would be leveraging an omnichannel approach, whether by presenting unique offers or a cross experience integration.”
Even the most successful African markets are still relatively young compared to the established European markets. What aspects from Europe do you think could be better adopted in African markets to help sustainable industry growth?
“One of the major aspects that some European markets have really progressed in is pushing the narrative of betting as a form of entertainment as opposed to a strictly money-making opportunity. In many African markets, gaming has adopted the narrative as being a potentially life-changing money maker. Though true in some cases – most often it isn’t.
“No matter the country – online gaming is a form of entertainment and operators need to make sure they offer a value-for-money experience, with good customer service & a fair and safe gambling experience. These are key pillars of a successful gaming market that I believe, once fully adopted, will be the catalyst for sustainable industry growth. Achieving those 3 elements would be a win-win for both operators & players alike.”
What are your thoughts on the prohibition of cryptocurrency in Nigeria? Do you think this could have an indirect impact on the growth of online gaming?
“Yes – Cryptocurrencies were banned in Nigeria but depositing and withdrawing in Bitcoin is still untraceable to banks. So, unless a currency exchange has been made in the deposit or withdrawal process – it cannot be enforced. Officially crypto is banned, but without a comprehensive framework to manage this sort of activity, I believe these sorts of transactions will continue.
“It’s hard to say what the impact on the future of the market will be, clearly it will alienate some punters who value anonymity and indirectly push them into the black market, which means lost revenue for the state and increased player vulnerability, something we all want to avoid.
“Ultimately, I’m very confident that at some point soon the Nigerian authorities might change their decision and ask to get some sort of report on suspicious cryptocurrency transactions from operators, building a case to reinstate crypto in a more regulated framework.”
Other than Nigeria, what countries do you think will offer the most growth potential going forward and why?
“Nigeria has proved to be the benchmark in many ways for online gaming in Africa, providing a great example of industry growth that many other African countries are following closely.
Countries such as Kenya or Tanzania have been boosted by advancements in mobile money and general internet infrastructure. While there are also countries in the west such as Ghana that are benefitting from the ripple effect caused by Nigeria’s success.
There are many countries that we, as an operator are excited about. Without naming any specific countries or disclosing 10bet’s future plans, suffice to say the next growth-potential countries would probably be one of the countries with an existing gambling audience that also has a rapidly increasing number of internet users.”
Editor’s Note: Gadi clearly believes in the potential of Africa to be one of the most successful online markets in the world. Issues such as the prohibition of cryptocurrency and the popularity of retail may still be apparent but won’t stop the inevitable shift to a robust, online market.
Gadi suggests that before true potential can be realised and the African market can catch up to its European counterparts, aspects such as customer service, market positioning and public image must be tackled head-on.
With more forward-thinking companies like 10Bet entering the market, we expect these challenges to be solved relatively quickly and we can look forward to a world-leading online market in just a few years when considering current trends. We can’t wait to see what the future holds!