With a population well into the 1 billion mark – by last year it amounted to almost 1.3 billion person – a median age of 19.4 years, and sports being hugely popular across all the continent it is easy to realize the huge opportunity that Africa keeps in hold in sports betting terms. But how easily is it for operators to tap into this market which many experts consider to have an unlimited growth potential? The answer for this relies heavily on having a deep know-how of the local scenario, and providing the players with a tailored offer.
One of the first things operators ought to have a good knowledge about is the demographic factor. Africa’s population as a whole is very young, with 60% of the entire continent aged below 25, making it the youngest continent in the world, in relation to its population makeup. All of the world’s top 10 youngest countries by median age are in Africa, with Niger in first place with a median age of 15.1 years. Add to this factor that by 2030, it is predicted that the number of youths in Africa will have increased by 42%, and the market is easily one of the most appealing on a world wide scale. The continent also has an estimated 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 and a sports betting market worth more than US$4 billion annually.
However, one should keep in mind that not only is Africa a market playing catch-up compared with most mature gambling markets, but it’s also a continent which poses a unique set of challenges, whether it be access to broadband internet connectivity, and access to live sports content.
So first and foremost even before considering the setting up or expansion of a gambling activity in Africa, there are certain questions that prospective licensees should pose to themselves: Which countries are already regulated, and which are set to embark on the regulatory path in the coming years? What licenses are available? What offers should be made available to the players? What are the main differences and aspects that characterize the different regions? These are all questions that should not only be considered but also need answering.
For example populations in Africa, although a great follower of sports, are receptive to football, but speed skating, trotting or ice hockey are unlikely to go down quite as well. The popularity of football across all Africa boils down to the fact a number of African football players have achieved superstar status in their respective clubs. One should only mention players like Liverpool’s Sadio Manè, and Mohamed Salah, and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté which are revered in their respective countries.
Another important challenge falls on the substantial gap as regards the payment and money-transfer systems available. It is a wide known fact that a big chunk of the population is still categorized as falling under the “unbanked consumers”. A high portion of the population does not have access to any financial services, thus explaining the high popularity of alternative payment methods. However mobile payments are predominant in the region, with operators charging payments directly to the users’ mobile phone bill. The advent of this form of payment method has allowed companies to circumvent the issue of so many customers not having a bank account. Even though other forms of payments are available – such as credit cards, e-wallets, bank transfers and prepaid cards – not all forms of transfer will be supported in every country.
There can be no doubt as to the potential of the African market, but it’s also equally clear that any prospective moves into the area need to be fully planned and mapped out to be able to succeed. That’s a fact and there’s no denying about that. The rate of success in the region highly depends on the operators themselves having at their disposal the thorough know-how of all the problematics that the region poses and how to circumnavigate them.