Crypto and betting in Africa has huge potential. SBC Summit Barcelona, an annually renowned conference and exhibition in iGaming and sports betting, assembled niche-experienced leaders across the globe in the just concluded summit. It wasn’t surprising to see industry leaders passionately discuss Africa’s unexploited potential. The opportunities and difficulties of Africa’s betting market, crypto, and tech were focused on. In this article, we review and respond to the summit’s discussion that touched on the unleashed potential across the 54 nations of Africa.
The ‘Approaching Africa panel’ was chaired by the Managing Director of Nigeria LiveScore Group, Simon Burrell. The Panel examined cross-market comparisons of cryptocurrency and regulatory impact across different nations. It goes without a doubt that Africa has diverse, with over fifty countries, each with varying languages, with English and French dominating numerous local dialects.
Crypto challenges and betting potential in Africa
MojaBET, one of the renowned betting companies, operated by Moja Group, under the leadership of its Co-Founder and Director Marc Saba, currently operates in 5 countries with the vision of expanding to the rest of 54 nations. The director’s view of Africa as a fertile ground of opportunities for betting firms comes in handy with other CEOs who have confessed the same in interviews with local media.
Language barrier poses operational challenges
However, as many European countries would take it, everything isn’t a walk in the pack. Challenges start with the language barriers and stringent regulatory framework that hinders betting companies’ growth and basic operations. The contrasting regulations may vary from one nation or one region to another. For instance, west African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon, have a centralized regulator that issues licenses at the startup phase and subsequent renewal fees that can be cumbersome. In some countries, the government has monopolized sports and intentionally raised the requirement for startup firms to enter the betting industry.
A costly misconception among foreigners
One of the most common mistakes foreign investors make is perceiving Africa as a single entity. However, it has the potential to become one of the world’s largest iGaming markets. The entire continent has immense potential; however, different African countries approach gambling market regulation and oversight differently. Thus, entering any specific African market necessitates careful planning. Before entering a specific African market, trends in mobile and retail betting, player behavior, mobile take-up, licensing practice, tax levels, payment methods, and even terminology must all be addressed. The only thing these contrasting markets have in common is a love of football, which makes football betting by far the most popular sports betting category on the entire continent.
The regulations and lack of regulations
Many African countries have regulated land-based sports betting, but online regulations differ. Online is not only not illegal in most cases, but it is also not covered at all, posing an entirely new set of challenges for operators. However, even when regulations are in place, there are still obstacles to overcome. These types of tax increases can occur, for example, in East African countries, including Kenya and Uganda.
Betting regulation variations among countries
Egypt has legal land-based gambling, but online betting is not yet regulated. All forms of gambling are legal in Morocco, whereas land-based casinos in Tunisia are only open to non-residents, and online betting is illegal but not prosecuted. Madagascar has legalized casino gambling in Central Africa, Ghana and Nigeria have regulated land-based casino and sports betting, while the Gambia is completely unregulated. While Ghana only regulates mobile lotteries, Nigeria has yet to present any specific online regulations. Retail betting is very popular in South Africa, and unlike online gambling, online sports betting is regulated. Online gambling is not legal in Botswana, but residents can gamble at various online casinos, international sportsbooks, bingo, and poker sites. Only casinos and horseracing are permitted for online betting in Zimbabwe.
The need to partner with local operators
When it comes to most African markets, analyzing entry barriers is critical. Certain African countries are more welcoming to foreign operators and suppliers than others; this is why it is vital to approach each country individually and to understand each country’s legal and financial systems to steer the business in the right direction. In most African countries, however, legislators and regulators tend to protect the interests of local businesses. Strong joint ventures and partnerships with existing local operators and betting shop owners are usually recommended.
Africa as a crypto frontier continent
Crypto currency and Africa was one of the subjects that dominated the discussion on the Panel. Africa is still having its majorly still unbanked with payment hurdles cutting across to most countries. Thanks to Yolo Group’s Head of Africa, Albert Clement, who shed light on the rise of cryptocurrency and has it handy to solve all these challenges. Clement clarified that the thrill of adopting cryptocurrency is how it gives users financial control over their assets. Together with Panel, the following were deduced concerning the popularity of crypto in the African Continent.
Reasons behind crypto popularity
Cross-border payments are a factor, especially since remittances are frequently sent from countries like South Africa to the Southern African Development Community, a group of 15 continents. Another problem is the unpredictability of local fiat currencies. This year, for instance, the South African rand reverted to its former status as the world’s most volatile currency, prompting consumers to seek financial safeguards in crypto. Africans living in other African countries have also lost faith in their central banks. Consider Zimbabwe, where hyperinflation has been rampant. Bitcoin has become so popular there that demand far outstrips supply, resulting in BTC trading at a significant premium to prices elsewhere in the world.
In terms of crypto regulation
Morocco, Zambia, Algeria, Libya, and Namibia are among the African countries that have outright banned crypto currency. Others have created significant uncertainty by failing to take a clear stance, leaving consumers in the dark. South Africa has been a bright spot on the continent, with regulators enthusiastic about the potential of cryptocurrency. Official bodies have collaborated with crypto companies and financial institutions to determine the best path forward.
Work on an intergovernmental cryptocurrency regulatory framework has been ongoing this year, but the report has yet to be released. Many cryptocurrency proponents remain encouraged by a positive position paper issued by the South African Reserve Bank in 2014: “Increasing merchant acceptance, integrating existing conventional payment instruments with decentralized convertible virtual currency, and promoting the benefits inherent in such systems.” As a result, Bitcoin has the potential for significant growth in its current operational environment.”
Hurdles to crypto traction in Africa
Aside from regulatory issues, foreign crypto startup firms struggle to gain traction on the continent. The adoption will be difficult because it may be difficult to spread the word about crypto’s potential, and the fear may put some consumers off that it is simply too technical to use daily. It’s also fair to say that, due to its volatility, Bitcoin may not be the best currency for daily purchases for Africans, especially those transacting away from their local fiat.
There is also a serious risk that reliable internet access across the continent will be overestimated, especially given how far behind other parts of the continent connectivity is. Furthermore, compelling crypto and blockchain projects tailored to the African market will rely on developers and entrepreneurs who can deliver them. Training new talent and attracting expertise from around the world will be critical in increasing mainstream adoption levels.
Final remarks about Africa, crypto and betting
Crypto and betting is the future but the SBC Barcelona panel concluded that Africa is yet to be exploited to its full potential. Still, numerous opportunities lie in this continent, given the fact that almost all the countries are in their developing phase. A huge market for betting and other iGaming gambles is yet to be reached and the key issue is who tackles and finds solutions to the existing hurdles to stand a chance of winning most of the countries in the continent.
Moja Group´s Marc Saba noted that while most markets are behind in tech, adoption is rising, with smartphone penetration exceeding 50% in many countries, especially with entertainment-driven young demographics. The regulation challenges facing foreign investors and startups are almost the same across the continent; hence need to explore a one-time solution that can mitigate the regulators to be lenient to create a conducive environment for business growth.
The betting and crypto experts anonymously agreed that the key to the solution is collaboration and partnership with local investors. The locals understand the issues more so how to work around the stringent rules regarding betting and crypto. Besides, singling out one country to establish a business is easier that succeed than targeting an entire region or continent. Investors, however, ought to focus on the opportunities they will accrue upon succeeding as opposed to underlying challenges.