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The African games industry in numbers

Africa is home to nearly 200 million gamers, who spend hundreds of millions in US dollars on video games (primarily on mobile).

That’s according to the newly-published Africa Games Industry Report, which goes live today in the aftermath of Africa Games Week. Produced by Nigeria-based studio Maliyo Games, the report offers an overview of the industry landscape and the audience across Africa, as well as how it fits in with the global games market and the opportunities it presents, based on the latest data and Maliyo’s own developers survey.

The studio kindly shared the report with ahead of publication, allowing us to bring you some of the highlights to create a snapshot of the African games industry. The report was presented at Africa Games Week by Maliyo Games’ CEO Hugo Obi, and Kristian Roberts, CEO of Nordicity, which contributed to its creation.

Explaining the reasons that led him to produce this report, Obi said they were “multi-layered.”

“I run a studio based in Nigeria – so like most people who are engaged with producing games, I left my day-to-day job,” he explained. “My country is quite small and quite comparable to most countries across the continent. I think South Africa is most likely the largest and the most developed [market]. And I understood from going to events like [Africa Games Week], from travelling around the world, meeting investors and talking to policy makers, that we were not doing a good enough job articulating what the [games] industry was, and the opportunities that exist in the African industry.”

Roberts highlighted that the Middle East and Africa represent 4% of global games revenue, saying: “The underlying premise of the whole report is that there’s a massive market potential for games in Africa. We all already know, of course, that cultural content in Africa is supported around the world, from music to film to fashion, astronomy, arts. The world consumes African cultural content. The fundamental question is: What about games?”

He added: “The report highlights the rich diversity of communities, of cultural groups and languages across the continent, which of course provides an opportunity for new and unique IP.”

Obi explained that making the report accessible and easy to read was at the core of the project, as the team isn’t only targeting professionals with this research, but also the general public across the continent, to help shift opinions around video games.

“When we put this together, and the thinking around who could use this, we had that vision that it would be accessible to everyone. So the general public, like the mums and dads who don’t understand why the kids play games, could read this report and understand that the games industry is a highly skilled industry.”

He added: “And young kids in school, learning game design or game programming, and looking to go into industry, now they have top-line visibility of not just their local market but also what’s happening within the region itself and that gives them a lot more confidence to push through.”

He also noted challenges in having investors understand the revenue potential as well as the key players of the African games industry, so the report aims to fill that gap.


According to a 2023 Newzoo report, Africans spend an average of $6 per year on games, primarily through in-app purchases on mobile games.

In fact, the total IAP spending across Sub-Saharan Africa alone is $778.6 million, accounting for 90% of all games revenue in the region.

Looking at specific countries, South Africa has a higher average revenue per user at $12 per year. Meanwhile, four of the other biggest markets in Sub-Saharan Africa – Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Ethiopia – spend less at between $2 and $5 per user on average.

The total spending on games in 2022 across these five markets was as follows:

South Africa: $289.5 million
Nigeria: $184.5 million
Ghana: $41.7 million
Kenya: $38.8 million
Ethiopia: $35.2 million

And Africa’s spending is growing. A report by Newzoo and Africa-based mobile publisher Carry1st says Sub-Saharan Africa is on track to spend more than $1 billion on games for the first time in 2024.


There were 186 million gamers across Sub-Saharan Africa in 2021 – a significant increase from the 77 million reported in 2015.

177 million (95% of the 2021 playing population) focused on mobile games. Most gamers also favoured free-to-play titles; only 63 million (34%) paid up front for video games.

The Africa Games Industry Report also offered a look at the player population in the five biggest markets:

Nigeria: 46.5 million
South Africa: 23.9 million
Ethiopia: 15 million
Kenya: 11.8 million
Ghana: 8.3 million

The report also offered some insight into some of the unique qualities and challenges presented by the combined African markets. For example, across the entire continent there are 3,000 distinct ethnic groups with more than 2,000 languages spoken between them.

A lot of Africans can speak English and/or French, but Swahili is the most spoken indigenous language at 200 million speakers across Southern and Eastern Africa. Hausa is the most spoken language in Western Africa at 115 million speakers, while Arabic is the most spoken language in Northern Africa at 100 million people.

Africa also has a young population, with the median age being 19.7 years (compared to a global median of 30.4). It’s worth reminding that Africa is 54 countries and 1.4 billion people, 60% of which are under the age of 18, which Roberts said represents an “opportunity to seize.”

As such, Africa is expected to be the only region in the world where its population continues to
grow significantly in decades to come. There are predictions its populations could double by 2050. As a result, the African market is “growing in buying power” for various consumer products, including video games.

Development landscape

The report also included the results of the Africa Game Developer Survey. While it should be noted the sample was relatively small (118 respondents), there are still insights we can glean from the data.

For example, while most of those surveyed either work at a studio or are solo developers, one in five were hobbyists, part-time developers, or freelancers.

78% said they were working on mobile games, and 70% said they make PC games. Only 18% develop for consoles, with only 1% making games for Nintendo Switch.

“Having that many studios that do PC [development] was a little bit surprising,” commented Obi during the report’s presentation. “When you think about access [to technology], but access to market as well, it’s quite difficult for a lot of people to get on Steam.

“And obviously distribution is critical and, you know, quality of content, competitiveness in the space. So what I found was that a lot of studios didn’t focus on one platform. They always do both, PC and mobile. There’s a lot more of PC/mobile development rather than just PC, or mobile only. I think it was something like 25% did mobile only, and then something like 9% did PC only. But most people did both platforms.”

Moving on to other parts of the survey that he found surprising, Obi added: “I think the revenue numbers were quite shocking. Only nine studios who completed the survey earned over $100,000 in 2022. It’s understandable, but still shocking. But we also recognise the fact that this was the first time we were doing a survey and that we did not capture everyone. But I don’t think that the nine is too far from reality.”

Unity was the most used engine at 64% of respondents, while 14% used Unreal. Godot was the next most popular at 8%.

The African games industry is relatively young, same as its audience; 63% of those surveyed had five years or less of development experience.

The survey also highlighted some of the financial struggles African developers experience. Only 59% have ever secured external investment in any of their past projects. Of those that have received funding, 57% raised less than $100,000.

Meanwhile, only 36% earn income from game development – this is partly because of the number of hobbyists and part-time developers, who still rely on other sources of income.

As we highlighted last week in our Africa Games Week coverage, the continent’s infrastructure for supporting digital creative industries still requires improvement. 60% of respondents report that the power supply in their area is either poor or really poor, while 57% said internet access is not affordable from where they work.

But the games business across the continent is transforming and growing very rapidly, with measures of success becoming more and more substantial every year.

Concluding his part of the presentation, Roberts highlighted the massive potential for economic, cultural, and social impact of the games industry across Africa.

“For the general public, it’s an opportunity for youth employment, it’s an opportunity to create communities across the continent, to tell stories, both African-made stories to the world but also to [Africa],” he said. “It’s an opportunity for the industry itself, for that access to talent, to markets on the continent, and to further increase opportunities for collaboration. There’s an obvious investment potential.

“For [African] governments, it’s [about] promoting employment, having African intellectual property for consumers around the world which in turn creates export revenues [that] drive economic benefits.”

Obi noted that the Nigerian games industry has already been reaping the benefit of the report, as he was able to start engaging with the country’s government.

“Very similar to most governments in Africa, they know very little about the games industry and that’s understandable,” he said. “But the moment we mentioned that we were working on a report there seemed to be this kind of lightbulb moment and everybody was really interested. I was getting calls every week, trying to find out how soon we could get it, asking for an executive summary, [and so on].

“And that was great. I felt like this was the first time that we could talk to the government in a language that they understand, because maybe this is how they consume information.”

The need for an African games industry champion at the executive level was highlighted as both Obi and Roberts emphasised a language barrier with governments.

“Most of them have kids who play games,” Obi said. “So they understand games from a content standpoint but they don’t understand games from a business standpoint. And I think language is pretty important.”

Roberts continued: “There’s three ways to talk about games. There’s the industry way to talk about games, there’s the investor way to talk about games, and there’s the government way to talk about games, and none of those three languages really work well together. And so part of what this report does is it speaks all three languages at the same time. It’s like Google Translate for the games industry,” he smiled.

Concluding the presentation, Obi highlighted funding challenges to tackle still, and hoped that the report could fulfil its purpose, providing data in a structured way to everybody, to understand the challenges but also see the opportunities of the African games industry, hopefully leading to individuals taking action.

You can check out more of our Africa Games Week coverage here.

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