Kenyan Gaming Market Expected to See a Rapid Rise by 2023

Despite still being a relatively new industry, the Kenyan gaming market is going from strength to strength. While the video game market was valued at 83 million U.S. dollars in 2018, it is expected to rise to 153 million U.S. dollars by 2023.

Also, in 2023, the entire social online gaming market in Kenya is estimated to be worth 55 million U.S. dollars, up from 24 million U.S. dollars worth noted in 2018. There are a few different factors at play in this rise. Some are specific to Kenya, and some are continent-wide.

Young Population

Something that can be applied to the whole continent is the percentage of young people in the population. Africa is the only region in the world where the youth population is rapidly increasing. By 2050 Africa’s young people, aged between 0 and 24 years old, will increase by nearly 50 percent! Africa’s youth are critical to the continent’s future when it comes to gaming as a whole, and all of its specific subsections such as online gaming and gambling, mobile gaming, esports, and so on.

As video gaming is still an expensive affair for most Kenyans, with taxes shooting up the price of consoles and locking out the average young Kenyan, most local gamers have to rely on gaming lounges that are set up almost everywhere in the country, or on mobile gaming.

The Rise of Smartphones

Mobile gaming generates close to half of the revenue that the gaming industry gets annually in Africa. But, what sets Kenya apart is the very high internet penetration rate for an African country – 43%. And a vast majority of internet users in the country, do so from mobile devices.

As the 2019 report by the Communications Authority of Kenya suggests, over eight million Kenyans own smartphones. Therefore, for most ordinary Kenyans though, gaming IS associated with their smartphones. With this also comes easier access to the internet, as well as faster social media consumption.

Finally, it seems that mobile games have emerged as the go-to therapeutic relief for the average Kenyan as gaming activity across smartphones has surged with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. The swift rise is attributed to better grade smartphones entering the Kenyan market and to many Kenyans keeping busy while protecting themselves indoors from the corona-virus pandemic.

The Rise in Online Gambling

Kenya is witnessing an explosive growth of the online gambling sector. This is on the one hand a result of the massive digitalization, but on the other, Kenyan uniqueness in the African gambling industry landscape comes out of the fact that it was among the earliest countries to legalize all forms of betting and casino games.

The state is also home to one of Africa’s biggest brands in online betting – Nairobi based SportPesa. Established in 2014, the company has grown into a global name, with a presence across Africa and Europe. Following their love for sports betting, and due to the rapid increase in mobile phone users, the popularity of online casino sites in Kenya has also risen sharply, with games such as mobile Blackjack, Roulette, Poker or Slots played most often.

Esports Celebrities

Kenyan gaming lounges have produced some gaming stars and gave rise to the esports industry. Esports is the fast-growing, major money-making world of competitive video gaming. This global phenomenon is in a league of its own, where athletes may not look like your traditional sports stars – yet have huge earning potential, massive brand endorsements, and even their own fans. While many of the top players reside in Europe or the US, there is a rising number of them who are from Africa, and specifically Kenya.

One of these stars is Sylvia “Queen Arrow” Gathoni, a 22-year-old gamer from Kenya. Sylvia is a law student by day and a pro-gamer by night and is Kenya’s first female professional esports athlete. Her area of expertise is the fighting game “Tekken 7”. A regular on the gaming scene since 2018, today she is the first woman in East Africa to be sponsored by a global brand. Still, she is among only a handful of female esports players in Africa and has faced many challenges:

“There’s some men who do not like the idea that I’ve made it as far as I have. They say that the only reason that I’ve gotten signed is because I’m a woman and it’s not because of my hard work and my skill.”

– Sylwia says.

We will see the effects of the Kenyan rapidly rising gaming market in the years to come.


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