The cost of mobile data in South Africa is in welcome decline and anecdotal evidence suggests mobile gaming is experiencing unprecedented growth.
That’s according to local gaming leader Ekasi Esports which says the fact that South Africa climbed from 148th to 136th place in 2020, based on the price of a gig of mobile data, is good news for the country’s 11-million gamers.
In May last year, one gigabyte of mobile data cost R88, according to UK price comparison website Cable.co.uk. By the end of the year, the price had dropped to R39 with South Africa cheaper than such developed countries as the US, Canada and New Zealand. South Africa’s mobile data cost is now on par with Germany and Japan.
“The plunging cost of participating in mobile gaming and esports, which do not depend on expensive gaming PCs or consoles, has not gone unnoticed by the country’s township youth who are flocking to digital entertainment like never before,” says Perfect Zikhali, creative director for Ekasi Esports.
South African mobile data still has some way to go before becoming a contender for the top spot in affordability which is currently occupied by Israel where a gig of data costs just five US cents.
Zikhali explains that his company regularly sees oversubscription when it announces it weekly online gaming tournaments. For example, phenomenal interest by gamers in Week 1 of the Ekasi Esports Free Fire Series saw the 96 available solo slots filled in just a single afternoon. Week 2 Registration earlier this month was filled in just a few hours. As a result, the company will be making more slots available for its weekly mobile esports tournaments.
Initiatives by the Competition Commission and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to reduce the cost to communicate are bearing fruit and further mobile data price reductions can be expected as progress continues with the assignment of spectrum suitable for mobile data services.
The current pandemic has demonstrated that remote access to affordable high-speed data boosts real-world quality of life and underscores the gap between the connectivity-haves and connectivity-have-nots.
Cheaper mobile data is opening up a lot of opportunities for African mobile gamers to compete at a world-class level. Ekasi Esports is excited to see what the future holds for the African mobile gaming and competitive esports scene,” says Zikhali.
The global gaming industry has exploded under lockdown when it was already the third most popular entertainment genre in the world after books and gambling.
Free Fire has more than 100-million daily active users worldwide and is free to download via the Android and Apple Store. Helping to boost the game’s popularity on this continent, aside from more affordable data, is the fact that there is now a dedicated Free Fire SSA server for South Africa, West Africa and surrounding regions.
Ekasi Esports is an entertainment brand that catalyses growth for players, content creators and partners. Our mission is to build a leading esports lifestyle brand, through developing content that is engaging and entertaining, creating top-of-the-line merchandise and delivering excellence in tournaments and leagues, while providing value for our partners.