Bridging the Gap in Africa: Prejudice and Misconception

Written By:

Christophe Caye, Co-Founder and CEO, LudWin Group

I am very often asked by investors or government officials from around the world about how Africa can “bridge the gap” in our industry and others. I have always found this question disturbing. Firstly, because there are many aspects for which it is the rest of the world which should bridge the gap with Africa, not the other way around. Secondly, because many of my interlocutors with limited exposure to Africa, simply visualise it as a “continent”, a global geographical location on the map with certain key characteristics which apply to all countries. Others will compartmentalise between West Africa and East Africa. Then, you have those who will see Northern Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.


In fact, everyone defines Africa according to their own language, culture, current location, industry’s interests, experience and priorities. I have always found strange this tendency to generalise and encapsulate Africa into one definition that fits all realities. Are Canadians equal to Americans? Do you do business in Miami as you do in San Francisco? Is Brazil the same as Argentina or Mexico? Of course not. They are indeed very different. In Asia, would one say that doing business in Japan, China or the Philippines is the same? And what about Europe? Greece is different from Sweden or France or the UK.


The very same applies to Africa. Africa is a continent made of 54 very different countries, each with its own culture(s), languages, history, legislation, traditions, habits and behaviours. Algeria is different from Tunisia or Morocco. Rwanda is not South Africa and Ethiopia is not DRC nor Nigeria. Every country is different.


In our gaming and gambling industry, the same is true: regional trends due to history and past legislations, the local structures, legislations, technologies, products, habitants’ propensity to play, … are all very different from one country to another. What works in Nigeria doesn’t necessarily apply to Mozambique. Just as everywhere in the world, some are doing better in certain areas, others are stronger in a given sales channel or for a specific gaming product.


What is however common to all in Africa is that the evolution and availability of technology, the easier access to international events broadcast, the mobile telecom operators increased network coverage, the standardisation of mobile payments interfaces, as well as the reduced prices for data and feature phones, are elements making the gaming products more accessible to all across the continent. Add this to a generally limited leisure offer and you obtain gaming and gambling markets growth percentages with double digits.


But with such positive developments, we are also witnessing the negative side of things with suppliers believing they can do anything because “it is Africa” and there might be fewer consequences to their acts there, than somewhere else in the world. We also see untrained controlling authorities submerged by market growth, increased numbers of illegal operators, underage play and cross-border activities - including from international operators wrapped in their “compliance and responsible gaming” blankets in their own countries! – leading some governments to overreact and ban gaming or impose impossible tax regimes.


As usual, the balance is somewhere in the middle, taking into account local specificities, learning from others and acting responsibly. This is true for suppliers, operators and state authorities. African countries all have many unique features and qualities which one cannot find anywhere else in the world. We, as consultants, suppliers and operators must push for better exchange and circulation of information between regulators, implementation of best practices, development of responsible gaming in all countries, proper governance by operators, implementation of suppliers’ background checks by authorities, and providing such national gaming authorities and regulatory bodies with the means to control their markets.


By doing so, we will respect diversity, nourish each other through improvement, create jobs, generate more revenue and simply add value everywhere we can. That’s what “bridging the gap” should be.

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