- Title: Nigeria's professional gamers target booming global industry
- Date: 17th September 2021
- Summary: LAGOS, NIGERIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF AMATEUR GAMER, OLAOLUWA OLUMIDE-OJO PLAYING A FOOTBALL GAME
- Embargoed: 1st October 2021 10:48
- Keywords: Africa's youthful population Esports Lagos Nigerian startup Gamr professional gamers in Nigeria
- Location: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- City: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Africa,Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Video Games
- Reuters ID: LVA001EV3WBBR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Olaoluwa Olumide-Ojo started playing virtual football tournaments with his older cousins when he was just 3-years-old.
Ten years have passed and Olaoluwa believes he has the skills the turn his love for gaming into a career.
"I like to play 'War Zone', 'FIFA', 'Fortnite', and in the 'Fortnite' category, I'd say my favourite pro will be 'Mongrel'. In all-around gaming, my favourite pro will be 'TimTheTatman' because they all started as little kids who enjoy gaming just like me, and now they've grown to a platform where they could express themselves and play it on a day-to-day basis as well as making money," he said.
The competitive side of electronic gaming offers multiple players a chance to battle against one another in teams. Matches can also be streamed live to fans and spectators.
Esports has become big business around the world, driven by product sales, competition prize money, lucrative sponsorship deals, and accessory sales.
But the impact of the rise in prize money and advertising is only slowly being felt in Africa when compared to Asia and Europe.
In Nigeria, most gamers play for entertainment rather than at the professional level.
Nigerian startup Gamr is running a subscription-based online gaming platform that connects professional players to tournament organizers.
Gamr says it charges as little as 2 US dollars a month and has 60,000 subscribers across Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya, with 80% of those subscribers now competing professionally.
Kunmi Adenipebi founded Gamr earlier this year. He says the company has already paid out over 200,000 USD in prize money. He is confident that there is plenty of untapped in Africa.
"Africa is never late to anything, Africa just needs to always wake up when it is ready and I think that time is now. Asians, Europeans have heard about esports because that is where the product started from and the gaming culture is big in Africa, but not the esports culture, so all we need to do is introduce esports into that culture," he said.
Akintoye Arogunmati turned pro in 2019 when he won his first tournament. He has gone on to represent Nigeria in several international games.
The electrical engineering graduate has made a total of 5,000 USD since he started out. He says there is potential to earn even more.
Insiders like Arogunmati agree that esports is a promising economic opportunity for African youth, who form a majority of the continent's population.
"I play 'FIFA' professionally and I get paid because when you win tournaments you obviously get paid, so the more you win the more you get paid, and then I think more people should come in because when the scene is bigger when you see a lot of people playing, definitely more brands will want to come in and then it will get bigger and bigger and there will be a lot more prizes to go round," Arogunmati said.
In the meantime, Gamr and other promotors Gamr say they will continue to nurture the sector as internet access, speeds, and prices improve and youthful contenders like Olaoluwa Olomide-Ojo enter the fray.
"I know quite a bit of people whose parents are quite invested in them making a professional career out of themselves so I think we are getting there, we are not there yet but in the next few years we will be there," said Olaoluwa.
(Seun Sanni, Angela Ukomadu, Nneka Chile)
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