In Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana stand out as the three jurisdictions where there has been the largest expansion of the sports betting market over recent years. What specific challenges does Africa offer when it comes to running sports betting?
The major challenges concerning the African industry are primarily technological in nature. The entire region lags behind other markets when it comes to internet and smartphone penetration. This aspect, coupled with the fact that the continent is still very much cash-driven, have shaped the local market into a predominantly retail one. However, strong year-on-year growth are gradually morphing the industry to expand ever more to the online channels. This is further complimented by the fact that notwithstanding that the vast majority of the African population do not have access to a financial insitution and thus do not possess a credit card, there is a relatively high usage of mobile money payment gateways.
Although there still are no pan-African payment gateways, this is set to change in the short to medium term, with MTN Africa and Airtel Africa – although already present in a large number of countries – continuing their expansion across the continent resulting in a broader payment gateway infrastructure and especially facilitanting deposits and withdrawals into player accounts.
Could you tell us more about BtoBet’s presence in Africa? Which markets are you present in and what role has the company played in the development of sports betting in the region?
BtoBet is considered as the leading platform provider in Africa with the Neuron 3 platform already fully compliant and provided to clients in 22 different countries, namely: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DR Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leonne, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
What has really set us apart from the competition throughout the years is our perseverance in delivering an optimal player experience notwithstanding the difficult market scenarios, marked by challenges in terms of internet and smartphone penetration, and even in the older devices that are still used on a widespread scale throughout the continent.
It was never our intention to sacrifice the betting experience due to technological limitations, thus the only feasable way forward was the optimisation of our platform to reflect the local context. Having achieved this we set to ensure that the betting experience is localized from every perspective, including from a content perspective. Nowadays our partners in Africa are benefitting from tailored content feature lightweight architecture, and doing without heavy algorithms whilst at the same time maintaining a UI and resultant UX comparable to more mature market scenarios – such as the European one – which are a step ahead from a technological and infratructural point of view.
Nowadays our approach is deemed to be the standard for Africa, and I am proud of how we managed to help in the evolving of the local industry in a tangible way.
Could you discuss any lessons learned for further sports betting expansion in Africa?
Operators and platform providers alike must keep in mind one determining factor: One size does not fit all. The African scenario is a challenging market demanding deep local knowledge. A lot of our competitors have tried to enter the African market in the past and failed because they adopted the same approach that they were using in more mature markets such as Europe. One must be aware that the advanced technology has to be adapted and optimised for the local scenario. It is useless to provide our partners with a web or mobile solution that has a demanding UI whose requirements are not met by the majority of smartphones used by the local players. In Africa this approach clearly doesn’t work because the technology you provide must cater for the older hardware as well as the newer generation phones.