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African Gaming Industry Trends In 2020

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Perusing games industry end of year reports (such as SuperData’s 2019 Year In Review) and predictions for the coming year have always been a past time I ravenously consume. However, despite the intriguing blend of numbers and bold forecasts trotted out, there has always been a sense of mild irritation that whilst most claim to have a global perspective, it almost always excludes insights from the African continent. Pretty frustrating right?

Well, fret no more. I decided to peer into the 2020 crystal ball to see what the year holds in store for us all. That is provided we avoid any major impactful global events such as the threat of an impending global fracas or our descent into a climate induced extinction level event.

Disclaimer: Before we jump right into it, it’s worth acknowledging the discrepancy between the varying sub regions in Africa. South Africa and to some extent North Africa are more developed regions with sub-saharan Africa lagging behind, but making up ground at breakneck speed.

1. Education is Key

Africa is the only region in the world where the youth population is increasing. By 2050 Africa’s young population, i.e., those aged between 0 and 24 years old, will increase by nearly 50 percent. Africa will have the largest number of young people. Africa’s youth are key to the continent’s future when it comes to mobile and gaming as a whole, which will be further boosted any significant investment in the education space.

Whilst established companies such as Andela and Gebeya have forged a reputation built on developing the next generation of software developers across the continent, a need for a more focused gaming curriculum is the next logical extension of that strategy. Expect that to be further explored and possibly addressed in the coming twelve months.

The training of technical and design competency talent notwithstanding, educating the next generation of business savvy managers and executives to lead local studios and publishers should also emerge as formal education takes hold.

Also Read: How This Tanzanian Is Building An eLearning Platform For Students To Learn, Discuss and Network

2. Spaces of Play

With the talent pool likely to increase, a space to gather and increase the likelihood of knowledge sharing becomes paramount.

The continent has witnessed a steady growth in the number of tech incubators and hubs in the recent years. Today, we have over 100 technological hubs spread across the continent, harbouring thousands of innovative minds crafting new technological applications, platforms and ideas that are impactful to the continent. 

The tech hubs include MEST in Ghana, ActivSpaces in Cameroon, iHub and Nailab in Kenya, Co-Creation Hub in Nigeria, BongoHive in Zambia, IceAddis in Ethiopia, among others. These hubs are stimulating the rise of digitally-savvy young people who are every bit as talented and hungry as workers in any other place. However, expect more gaming centric spaces such as the Nairobi Game Development Center to pop up across the region.

3. Body of Strength

Despite the presence of international organizations of IGDA in the continent, their reach and level of activity has diminished. This might be as a result of the fragmented nature of the gaming eco-system which has limited their involvement to South Africa.

With developers across the continent increasingly searching for ways to share and co-exist together, a body designed to unite and champion the merits of the industry and continent as a whole will be formed.

Comprising industry members from the five main regions of the continent; North, South, East, West and Central. The body will be a powerful advocate for the sprouting creators in need of guidance and support.

4. Rewarding Excellence

With the formation of an industry body, it seems proper that a continentally recognized award built on integrity and designed to celebrate the works of local talent should follow in tow.

5. Retail on the Rise

Steam, App store, Google Play, Steam, GOG and a multitude of options exist as viable options for developers looking for platforms to peddle their wares. However, there appears to be a need to cater to the growing number of local gamers baying for games with a distinctly local flavour.

That could lead to the rise of local digital retail outlets. The likes of Bonako Games Arena and Masseka Game Studio are already exploring such options, but they aren’t the only ones.

Developers possess the talent, but struggle to commercialise their products. A mix of challenges that include, but not limited to; a central point that prioritises and appreciates the African gaming perspective, the volatile nature of each regions currency valuation as well as varying views of technical and artistic quality impede financial progress.

6. Diverse Perspectives

As the industry matures, so is the need to shine the spotlight on various voices and perspectives within the industry. Variety is the spice of life. It’s also the seasoning needed to ensure the industry remains exciting and unpredictable. Initiatives such as Prosearium helmed by Sithe Ncube provide a platform for aspiring and established female developers to step forward.

7. Investment Spike

With the fires of industry ablaze, expect the attentions of VCs and investors to be further peaked and investments in the gaming space to increase. Investors willing to support the industry would be best placed to do so in either one of the following verticals

  • Studios
  • Publishers
  • Esports teams
  • Infrastructure companies (such as hardware and software options like game engines and retail platforms).

8. In Conclusion

In truth, with the region such a hotbed of activity and on the cusp of its fourth industrial revolutions, this list could have been inexhaustible. Esports continues on its positive trajectory with numerous platforms such as PlayArena now available.

Whilst streaming and XR verticals exist, traction will stagnate unless a combination of supportive government regulation and dependable infrastructure is available and accessible. Despite the challenges, there has never been a better time to be immersed in the African games industry. Games Industry Africa (GIA) looks forward to supporting its growth in 2020.

By: Vic Bassey

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Post Covid-19: The social impact of 4IR enabling technologies on the African continent

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Tshiwela Ncube is the Co-Founder and COO at VUUQA.com

During this global pandemic, I have been thinking of how the world will change post corona. Will this pandemic thrust Africa into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)?

In this article, Tshiwela discuss the social impact that 4IR enabling technologies will have on the African continent and how they will assist in addressing various problems facing the continent mainly in the following sectors:

  1. Health–This sector will be impacted the most; technologies like AI will enable diagnosis where there are shortages of doctors and enable the inventory management of medication in rural areas.
  2. Agriculture – Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) have the power to enable African farmers to optimize productivity and reduce wastage through “precision farming” which relies on testing and data analysis to assist in the managing of field variations.
  3. Financial – 4IR will increasefinancial inclusion in Africa by enabling the unbanked to participate in the economy through retail electronic payments platforms and virtual savings and credit supply technological platforms. Technologies such as blockchain are providing the informal sector with opportunities to gain access to credit.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Ellen Fischat, Founder Story Room and Inspiring Fifty SA Ambassador

Most of these 4IR technologies have been implemented in Africa and many more are currently in testing phase. Africa continues to push innovation;however, a few challenges have the potential to impede the advancement of 4IR in Africa.

  1. Skills Deficit: To take full advantage of 4IR, Africa needs to invest heavily in cultivating the skills and capabilities of their labor force,lack thereof may result in job losses with technology replacing humans. When the labor is skilled it can work hand in hand with the technology.
  2. Infrastructure: Africa needs to improve its digital infrastructure in order to be able to access the advanced technology that enables 4IR. In countries like South Africa where data prices are expensive, the average man on the street can’t afford data therefore cannot connect to the internet affordably and easily.The result of poor digital infrastructure is that it reduces crucial connectivity which makes it difficult to effectively activate technologies like AI.
  3. Regulations: Africa needs to tighten and increase its cyber security to ensure the safety of people data and any possible fraud.Regulations should also be placed to enable African digital leaders to scale cross border, most especially with the new Continental Free Trade Agreement, this should be the time for Africa to align their processes and procedures in order to take full advantage of the rapid changes that 4IR is bringing.

4IR has the power to bring real fundamental social changes to Africa and to enable Africa to compete globally. It is up to African leaders to ensure that the environment is equip and conducive to forester such efforts. There was never a better time than now for Africa to move forward with the 4IR agenda and not only become a participant but a key player.

Article by: Tshiwela Ncube is an E-commerce thought leader, Co-Founder and COO at VUUQA.com

Visit: Vuuqa

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Facebook launches Tools to keep faith-based communities connected during COVID-19

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The tools are part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts in keeping communities safe, connected and informed during this pandemic

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa- Facebook has launched key resources to help faith groups stay connected and engaged during the current COVID-19 outbreak. The resources include the Faith on Facebook Resource Hub and the Faith on Facebook toolkit, both providing guidance and step-by-step tips that faith-based groups can use to keep their communities engaged while observing social distancing. The tools are part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts in keeping communities safe, connected and informed during this pandemic.

Download document: https://bit.ly/2VicyFs

Also Read: African academics launch initiative to collate COVID-19 data across Africa, call for volunteers

Some of the tools that faith-based groups can use to connect with their communities during the COVID-19 outbreak include:

  • Facebook Pages: Explore how to build an active and engaged audience of faith communities, advice on posting interesting content, as well as creating events and using Groups for discussions.
  • Facebook Groups: Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, discussing issues and ideas, posting photos and sharing related content.
  • Facebook Events: Host virtual events using Facebook Events to spread the word.
  • Utilising WhatsApp: Consider sending bite sized sermons or recordings through the voice note feature on WhatsApp to members, using either the dedicated broadcast list function or creating a New Group list.
  • Watch Party: Host a Watch Party for your Group, choosing videos that are relevant to your community and invite members to join and discuss.                                            
  • Facebook Live: Stream live stream events and performances on Facebook, utilizing interactive features such as reactions, shares and comments enabling you to further engage your audience.  

Commenting, Facebook Africa Regional Director Nunu Ntshingila said, “At a time like this, our mission has never been more relevant, to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. We know that faith leaders across Africa are grappling with the unexpected challenges in serving their members digitally, and we’re committed to providing them with the resources and tools to support them as much as possible”. She added, “Our ultimate goal is to equip faith-based communities with the tools to help them continue faith conversations throughout the pandemic.”

Credit: Facebook

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Zindi set to offer free hackathon and tailored online problem-solving sessions

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Cape Town based online data science competition platform Zindi will during the COVID-19 lockdown offer businesses free hackathon and tailored online problem-solving sessions.

Zindi recently launched a new hackathon space on its platform. The space will enable those companies with data science teams that are now working from home a private space to continue to upskill on problems that are important to their businesses while strengthening teamwork and cohesion in their free time, even while kilometres apart.

The offer comes in the wake of a 21-day lockdown imposed by the South African government with effect from 27 March.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Ellen Fischat, Founder Story Room and Inspiring Fifty SA Ambassador

“It really feels like we are stepping through that threshold that separates the world as we knew it from the uncharted territory that lies ahead. The situation is evolving rapidly and every day seems to bring new revelations about how COVID-19 might impact our lives, our economies, our companies, and our professional teams in the months and years ahead,” says Celina Lee, CEO Zindi.

“We realise that even during these challenging times, business doesn’t stop,” adds Lee.

“At Zindi, we also find ourselves having to adapt to the changing landscape. But we are driven by our mission to make AI accessible to everyone and every company. We see the current climate as an opportunity for our online community of over 12,000 data scientists to apply their skills to problems that matter most now, and to be an engine for productivity even during this unusual time,” says Lee.

“One thing this experience is teaching us is that physical location no longer matters. As an online platform, Zindi is uniquely positioned to harness the power of data scientists around the world to keep businesses and teams going during these challenging times. As a support to you, our valued partners, we’re pleased to offer you a free hackathon for your data science team or an online problem-solving session tailored for your business. Remember, we’re all in this together,” she adds.

ZINDI

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