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Dozens of Games Studios have Sprung up in Africa in the Past Decade

Insiders think African video games are poised to soar, and reel off statistics to support their case. The continent has a billion people under the age of 35 and more smartphones than North America. Mobile internet use is rising by 9% a year. Drawing on local folklore, developers hope to do for gaming what Afrobeats has done for music and Nollywood for film. African video games are not yet very lucrative. Most are designed for casual players to download for nothing on mobile phones. Revenue from adverts or selling in-game goodies is modest. “It’s been a struggle, frankly, in Africa to find a business model for a lot of games,” says Jay Shapiro, a Canadian entrepreneur who runs Usiku Games, a studio in Kenya. He thinks one answer is for developers to build economies of scale through initiatives such as the Pan-African Gaming Group, a network of nine studios that he chairs. Venture capitalists are starting to take notice. In January investors put $20m into Carry1st, a South African publisher which helps studios worldwide launch their content in Africa. Its platform offers punters more than a hundred ways to pay (many African gamers lack credit cards or live in economies hamstrung by foreign-exchange restrictions).