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Putting African Esports on the Global Map

Esports is the fast-growing, major money-making world of competitive video gaming. This global phenomenon is in a league of its own, where athletes may not look like your traditional sports stars — yet have huge earning potential, massive brand endorsements and even their own fans. While many of the top players reside in Europe or the US, the African continent is looking to share in a global market that pulled in over $1 billion in 2019. One consulting firm projects Africa’s gaming industry will increase by 12% in the next five years, with Egypt and South Africa leading the industry in revenue. Law student by day and pro-gamer by night, Sylvia Gathoni — better known by her gaming handle “Queen Arrow” — is Kenya’s first female professional esports athlete. Her area of expertise is the fighting game “Tekken 7.” Born and raised in the heart of Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, Brian “Beast” Diang’a is one of the country’s most celebrated Mortal Kombat players. Across Africa, the esports industry still faces significant challenges including slower internet connections, lack of infrastructure and heavy import duties on equipment — making them hard and expensive to come by.