Despite numerous difficulties, the video game sector continues to grow in Africa, especially as smartphones are becoming more widespread on the continent. At the same time, domestic game development is stagnating in Africa, as companies lack both funding and skilled workers.
Representatives from the video game industry in Africa recently gathered at the second FEJA gaming summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast to discuss its future on the continent, as the number of gamers have multiplied over the last several years, reaching some 500 million, according to Serge Thiam, digital strategy director at Stay Connect. Despite the numerous obstacles that African game developers face, they are hopeful that the regional industry will thrive in the near future.
Sidick Bakayoko, founder and CEO of Paradise Game, said in an interview with France 24 that he can ‘easily see’ the game industry creating up to one million jobs by 2025 in West Africa alone and even more, when taking the entire continent into account. He noted though that it is only possible if people learn about successful African game studios.
‘If we want game developers to start joining us, we need to make sure that they see there are examples of African companies that develop games’, he said.
Wilfried Ouonouan, game designer at Abidjan-based Work’d gaming studio, cited by France 24, added that the local industry is short of skilled programmers and other personnel, required for game development and distribution. He explained that it is mostly caused by the lack of educational facilities.
‘We didn’t ever have a [school] class where someone said “make a video game.” We’ve learned game developing thanks to YouTube and the internet’, he said.
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Bakayoko agreed with his colleague, noting that in order for more game development studios to appear in Africa, specialised schools must be established first. Ouonouan added that better understanding is also required by the African people for that to work as well.
‘Parents need to know that [working in games] is a possibility, that these are the companies that can hire you’, he said.
Festival de l’Electronique et du Jeu Vidéo d’Abidjan (FEJA) is the biggest video game event in Africa. The fist was held 2017 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. It gathers game developers and eSports athletes from the whole continent to discuss the industry’s future, issues, and roadblocks in Africa.