How Kenya is pushing for esports dominance
Kenya has a worldwide reputation for success in athletics. It has the highest number of medals of any African country in the history of the Olympics, mainly thanks to the exploits of its famous middle and long distance runners. But the country wants to impose itself in many other disciplines.
There are less than 100 days until the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where the esport will make its debut. Dota 2, Konami’s eFootball Series and Rocket League will be the gaming titles featured at the first Commonwealth Esports Championships.
Esports Kenya Federation CEO Bavon Ojwang’ told Quartz that Kenya is aiming to compete for all three titles on offer at the Commonwealth Esports Championships. The country secured direct qualification for Dota 2, but has yet to compete in regional qualifiers ahead of the championships for the other titles, against African nations including Malawi and Mauritius.
In two to three years, Kenya will be the center of everything and anything in Africa.
Although there is a world of difference between athletics and esports, Kenya hopes to channel the same energy that put it on the global athletics map into esports. The victories of African 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala, coupled with highlights such as Africa’s top junior Angela Okutoyi at the Australian Open, have served to fuel the Kenyans’ ambitions to dominate the wider sporting landscape. .
E-sports will become more common in global competitions in the future
French President Emmanuel Macron is among those keen to see esports make its debut at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Kenya is among the African nations that are nurturing a new generation of gaming talent. The video games market in Kenya, worth $63 million in 2017, is expected to reach $118 million (pdf) in 2022.
Kenya are hoping to find their best players ahead of the live-streamed national qualifiers on June 4. South Africa is the only country on the continent with a large pool of professional esports players. 154 South African players raked in a total of $254,787 in esports prizes in 2021. Only a handful of other players from Africa, Kenya, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Tanzania made the list top earners over the past five years.
Ojwang’ has been leading the federation for four years. Despite some major challenges and setbacks along the way, he believes esports in Kenya is destined for explosive growth. He cites market expansion over the past five years, financial projections and the right mix of ingredients coming together quickly.
“In two to three years, Kenya will be the center of everything and anything gambling in Africa,” he says.
More and more companies are changing their attitude towards esports and now see it as a means of attracting young Kenyans. Some of Kenya’s biggest companies, including East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) and Safaricom, have incorporated esports into their recent campaigns. More and more Nairobi-based game development companies are popping up and the gaming community is growing…