Africa has recognised the value of gaming, and most countries are already profiting from it. However, Rwanda has the potential to grow in the gaming industry, particularly in video games, if the field is fully tapped into, and locals are offered the skills, and funding required, gaming enthusiasts say. The African gaming industry is one of the largest gaming markets in the world. According to a report on Africa taking over the world’s video game market by Africa News, gamers in Africa are estimated to be around 186 million as of 2021. Another report on the growth of gaming in Africa by Afrogamer (a leading source for e-sports news and content in Sub-Saharan Africa), states that out of the 186 million gamers, 95% play on mobile. This offers key insights into the future and potential of the gaming industry in the African market, which is currently valued at $590 million. The future of video games in Rwanda According to Aquila Adegbola, an accomplished game designer with three years of experience in the gaming industry and the founder of Aquila Studio, video games have the capacity to inspire change, generate revenue, and contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Rwanda. “By learning to develop and design games, young people in Rwanda can gain valuable skills in areas such as coding, graphic design, and storytelling, which can result in employment opportunities in the gaming industry, both locally and internationally,” Adegbola says. According to Statista, an online platform specialising in market and consumer data, offering statistics and reports, market insights, consumer insights, and company insights in various countries, revenue in the video games market in Rwanda is projected to reach $17 million in 2023 and is anticipated to show a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2023 to 2027 of 11.61%, resulting in a projected market volume of $26.41 million by 2027. In the video game market, the number of users is expected to reach 4.02 million by 2027, and user penetration is expected to be 21.8% in 2023 and 26.4% by 2027, Statista notes. Adegbola explains that e-sports and game streaming have become popular career options for young people around the world. “By building a strong gaming ecosystem in Rwanda, young people can develop skills in areas such as competitive gaming, broadcasting, and event management, and potentially earn a living through sponsorships and advertising,” he says. Young people would prefer to create content related to gaming, such as reviews, tutorials, and gameplay videos, emphasizing that this can provide an opportunity to develop skills in areas like writing, video editing, and social media marketing, and potentially earn income through advertising revenue or sponsored content, Adegbola notes. He also argues that gaming can be a source of inspiration for young entrepreneurs, as they can develop innovative ideas related to gaming, such as new game concepts or gaming-related services, and use them to start their own businesses, creating new job opportunities for themselves and others. ALSO READ: Unknown benefits of video gaming Adegbola looks forward to using his expertise to equip and connect tech talents with the game development tools needed to break into the gaming industry, explore new career opportunities, and emphasize establishing and putting Rwanda on the game industry radar. He plans to do this by working with major key players in the industry, both private and public sectors, through strategic planning and collaboration. Equipping young people with skills In order to impart video gaming skills and experience to youngsters and change the perception of such games, which comprise diverse benefits, Adegbola partnered with Dr Chukwuma Ekwelum, a private educational consultant and the executive director of Legacy of Excellence Academy (LEA), to organise a summer camp called ‘Uvumbuzi’. The camp’s name, ‘Uvumbuzi’, can be translated as “innovation” in Swahili and “discovery” in Kinyarwanda, and is aimed at capturing the essence of the camp, with the hope that youngsters will start viewing themselves as innovators and creators at a young age. “The camp taking place at African Leadership University in Gasabo seeks to ignite a passion within young people in an enjoyable and engaging manner through video game development over the course of four weeks, from July 17 to August 11. Learners aged 10 to 12 will be trained in graphic design, game development, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) principles, and how these skills can lead to lucrative and fulfilling careers in the future,” Ekwelum explains. The programme will culminate with a demonstration day where students will showcase their final products to their parents and families. The camp costs Rwf 75,000, but there is an early booking discount of Rwf 65,000. The cost includes tech skills, a t-shirt, and lunch every day from Monday to Friday. Events will start at 8:00 am and end at 2:30 pm daily. Ekwelum believes that gaming can help bridge the digital divide and ensure that all young people in the country have access to the technological tools they need to succeed in the 21st-century economy. He further elucidates that by fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among young people, game development can help create new businesses and industries that leverage technology to drive economic growth. This can include gamification platforms for accessing education and digital tools. “Gaming can serve as a platform for collaboration and knowledge-sharing among teenagers and young people in Rwanda, helping to create a more connected and dynamic community of innovators and problem-solvers. This can lead to new ideas, partnerships, and opportunities for growth and development across a range of sectors,” Ekwelum notes. ALSO READ: Video games to be streamed Ekwelum calls upon parents to give kids the opportunity to learn how to play and develop video games, as they are more advantageous than disadvantageous, adding that video games allow children to express themselves in a different way, tell African stories, and solve problems. “We want to empower and develop the next generation of game talents in Rwanda, focusing on classic development from the grassroots level and trying to add more people to the gaming space, making us the go-to for this talent.” Teaching learners to develop their critical thinking, logical, and creative skills will enable them to transfer all knowledge acquired during their school years and help them function better in their lives as adults. Kids will use a no-code approach, which is battery scripting, a game-creating engine.