On September 24 and 25, 2023, Senegal played host to the Africa of video games during the General Assembly of CONAPES (Senegal’s national e-sport promotion committee). For 48 hours, the various national federations and associations responsible for e-sports in their respective countries discussed the creation of a new African e-sports confederation.
Senegalese e-sport gets better organized
Meeting for two days at the prestigious King Fahd Palace Hotel in Dakar, African e-sport leaders discussed the creation of a Pan-African Gaming Confederation. At the initiative of Senegal and through the President of the National Committee for the Promotion of e-sport in Senegal, El Hadji Mansour Jacques Sagna, better known as Lord Alaji Man (former member of the legendary Senegalese rap group Daara-J), some 30 African countries have pledged to join forces to make their mark on the global e-sport scene.
Uniting for international success
Contacted by telephone by SNA to discuss the background to the creation of this African organization, Lord Alaji Man explains the need to unite: “Culture, and in particular e-sports, could be a unifying factor in building new bridges of exchange between the peoples of Africa,” he begins. That’s the big challenge. We, the video game community, thought we could make our mark, especially as Africa only accounts for 1.8% of the world economy. Gaming in Africa represents an economy of 800 billion FCFA and over 600 million gamers. A projection towards 2050 should double this total to 1.2 billion gamers.
Among other reasons for launching the African e-sport Confederation was the shared determination to succeed in this mission, reflected in the presence of the African committee in Dakar a week earlier. “We met for two days to work on the constitutional documents and, in an inclusive way, to give substance to this idea. We can be proud of the Senegalese expertise around the national committee for the promotion of e-sport (CONAPES) in close collaboration with the pan-African preparation committee made up of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Mauritius and Zimbabwe”, says Lord Alaji Man.
The power of the world of video games can no longer be disputed. This is a major factor in the implementation of public policies for African youth.“It’s not just a passion, it’s also a sustainable development tool for young people, and it can boost training in professions associated with video games.At the same time, we want to enable our countries to expand the digital economy by creating investment opportunities. For all these reasons, it’s important to work together to create synergy with all the countries that have answered Senegal’s call. The Senegalese government has taken the necessary steps to institutionalize this proposal to set up this Confederation”, insisted the Senegalese e-sport boss.
Strategic partners to boost African gaming
The success of this Confederation has been perfectly thought out in its structuring, and should benefit from real support. With this in mind, a number of strategic partners were present at what had the appearance of a conference on African gaming. FIBA had mandated Senegalese Mathieu Faye, recently appointed President of Zone II. Other organizations such as UNESCO, SMART AFRICA and Orange Middle East Africa were also present with their respective representatives. As part of its action plan, the new Confederation has teamed up with HP Middle East Africa. Without doubt its biggest partner.
“We are fortunate to be supported by partners such as HP Middle East Africa through the Gaming Garage program. As a result, we have signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding in French) with HP, and have set up the first training facility entirely dedicated to video games in Senegal,” explains Lors Aladji Man. An opportunity that should benefit other Federations on the continent.“This program will be extended to all members of the Confederation who will benefit from it,” he added.
Senegal as a pioneer
Senegal is a major initiator of this event, and has made giant strides in the organization and implementation of gaming throughout the country.Created in 2021, CONAPES is responsible for organizing and professionalizing e-sport in Senegal.“It took us almost a year to define the legal framework, from general regulations to tournament rules,” confides Lord Alaji Man.A thorough benchmarking exercise and, above all, a vision that corresponds to the local ecosystem. Senegal is also a member of the Global e-sport federation, which brings together 187 countries.”This status enables us to be invited to the Ryad Games for three games. The teams have been set up.We held a national detection day to identify existing potential. A massive number of young people signed up,” he says.
CONAPES has signed a partnership agreement with SÉNUM (Sénégal Numérique SA) to use the 45 Senegal Services spaces across the country and launch 45 departmental leagues. With a league to be called “SÉNUM e-sport Competitions where young people will compete every weekend in video games or digital-related passions”.The committee is making the most of the Senegalese sporting environment.”We’ll soon be launching the digital Navétane thanks to a partnership signed with ONCAV (national organization for vacation activities). A competition called e-Navétane will enroll the 8866 Navétane teams, each of which will be able to create an e-sport team and take part in e-Navétane competitions at zonal, departmental and regional levels. A test phase is scheduled for October, before the big launch in summer 2024.