Statistics show that from all African countries, Kenya has the fastest growing iGaming market, because of the popularity of sports betting among the younger population. A recent report by Hootsuite and We Are Social revealed that out of the top 20 search queries made by Kenyans in 2018, 11 were related to betting.
In addition, other reports showed that around 79% of all sports bets placed by Kenyan youngsters are on football matches and that in Kenya young people are betting at least once a week and spend around $50 on gambling on a monthly basis.
What stands at the core of these findings? Which factors contribute to the fact that Kenya is the rising star in the iGaming industry?
Growing young population and internet penetration
As of March 31, 2019, the total population of Kenya equals 51,884,712, which is equivalent to 0.68% of the total world population. The average age in this African country is 19.2 years, which emphasizes the fact that the majority of the population is young.
The latest report from the regulatory body for the communications sector in Kenya, the Communications Authority of Kenya, showed that the internet penetration on the territory of Kenya has reached its highest point in 2018. The statistics also showed that the number of internet users increased from 45.4 million users to 51.1 million users in 2018. The rise in internet connectivity is mostly due to the fact that in recent years in Kenya, and in entire Africa the number of mobile users has significantly increased.
3G network coverage across the country has also increased from 67% in 2014 to 85% in 2017, with 4G technology, now reaching more than a third of the population.
The overall affordability of mobile data has also improved, with 500MB allowance in 2017 costing 1.3% of monthly GDP per capita, as compared to 3.7% in 2014.
The emergence of mobile money
The popularity of sports betting in Kenya goes hand in hand with the mobile penetration. It is found that the preferred medium of the Kenyan population to place is via mobile phones. Kenya is also home to the mobile money transfer system. There are two mobile payment services that have become dominant on the territory of Kenya – Safaricom M-PESA and Airtel Money. These have transformed the financial and banking habits of the Kenyans, especially those who don’t own a banking account.
With M-PESA, people use their mobile phones as wallets as it enables them to make quick, easy and secure payments. It is a mobile banking service that is available 24 hours a day, all year long. With Airtel Money users are allowed to channel money to their online betting and casino accounts through their mobile phone. Through this service users could also transfer funds from their mobile phone to other mobile phone users quickly, efficiently and securely.
The number of active mobile money users on the territory of Kenya recently passed the 45 million mark. The growth of mobile money payment methods has taken over Kenya. Undoubtedly, it has a huge power in placing sports bets, as the young people in this country enjoy betting on sports and especially through their mobile devices.
In conclusion, the growing young population, internet penetration and the emergence of mobile payment services are the key-factors that open a lot of doors for operators who are interested in starting or growing their businesses in the Kenyan iGaming sector.
For more about the opportunities and challenges that the Kenyan market holds, download the latest industry report East Africa: Leading the continent’s iGaming revolution.