In a special feature on Africa, iNTERGAMINGi spoke to Spyros Stavropoulos, our Commercial Director along with two other key industry suppliers, who can see a natural development in this vibrant market and are looking to take advantage of its potential.
The African market is an exciting and diverse one. Which countries do you think are the most significant in terms of opportunities?
Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa can be considered great opportunities, as the number of betting operators that have presence in these markets is quite large, while having extended networks of betting shops there. In these markets, the Operators’ interest in adopting modernized betting solutions and offering fresh gaming content has been increased significantly within the last 5 years and all the studies agree that their interest will increase even further. These are exciting and dynamic markets, where betting operations are gradually adopting top gaming content, and require the technological solutions to bring that content to market and to their players.
Conversely, which countries do you feel have the most untapped potential?
Zimbabwe, Zambia show very promising potential, especially due to their increasingly good internet speed. They are the new focal point as they embody the traditional betting experience with the modern satellite streaming and cloud-based services.
In Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania and Mozambique, among other countries, operators offer their clients the option of paying for a bet placement and collect winnings through mobile money and with the convenience of mobile wallets already available on the players’ mobile phones, this option has accelerated business to more than two-fold of what it used to be.
How does the African market differ from other newly evolving markets around the world?
Any retail operator looking to enter the market must find a way around significant connectivity and payment processing infrastructure gaps. While major cities in South Africa certainly benefit from a more developed infrastructure, this is far less the case further north and needs to be mitigated.
Low internet connectivity, high distribution costs, and significant challenges with platform scalability all need to be overcome, and while mobile phone ownership is growing fast, handsets are far less sophisticated than what many operators will be accustomed to, and again need to be addressed to provide for a fully integrated, modern betting environment.
However, while the lack of technological infrastructure may present numerous obstacles, the use of tech can also be a great enabler when customised to local market conditions.
Also, the betting management solutions offered need to be customized to meet the market’s special needs. Even well-designed and fully functional solutions designated for other markets might not work if they do not meet special requirements arising from the market’s peculiarities. For instance, due to a requirement for very frequent betting placement, the cashier application offered should be supporting the need for quick and easy betting placement.
Many gamblers across the region are young and tech-savvy. What’s the key to keeping those players immersed in your product?
In our DNA a strong R&D is embedded, showing us that the young and tech-savvy generation are all about speed and easy-to-use solutions through the palm of their hands – literally their phone screen. Our solutions cover this aspect with HD graphics and ultra-low close to real-time latency. Additionally, in terms of content, we offer a great variety of modern virtual games and state-of-the-art lottery applications, designed to address the needs of the specific segment among others.
And how does the company on-board older players who may not be as knowledgeable about new technology?
A user-friendly interface and our ability to jump from online to retail and back covering not only the younger players but also the more traditional ones is one of the reasons we remain competitive and trustworthy for operators across Africa.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about the African market?
Africa is a vast continent combining highs and lows when it comes to contrasts. It is only natural that some ideas may be misconceptions for one region and facts for another. In the regions, we interact with we see that technology advances vary from location to location as well as the knowledge and exposure to different games available globally. We cannot speak of Africa as just one market, as within it are hundreds of different markets with separate needs and capabilities.
In relation to technology, what do you believe are the most exciting things on the horizon for Africa’s igaming industry?
We see advances made in the area of internet speed. It is about time to abort legacy technologies and enter the new world of streaming, cloud-based technologies and online gaming where capabilities are endless and opportunities are limitless.
Mobile money has also been on the rise for some time now giving players the opportunity and ease to have an entire betting experience through their phone, from paying, betting and receiving their wins.
Can you tell us something about the African sector most people wouldn’t know?
The African sector is merely based on retail shops. Shop owners have the power to change behaviours and drive customers on selecting a specific product. Although many times they pay attention to the functionality of a product rather than its innovating nature as a user-friendly product that does not rely directly on internet speed or the latest technology may work better in current conditions.
What new products should your customers be looking forward to over the coming months?
Our Numeric Games are quite popular within the African markets we are currently in. We take great pride in to keep improving the offering, and constantly enriching our portfolio to keep our players up-to-date on current trends and enhance their overall experience.