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Surprising Science

Accessing the African Mobile Gaming Market, One Okada at a Time

Maliyo Games is one of several startups ready to tap into the fast-growing African mobile user base by creating games involving specific cultural references and beliefs.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Maliyo Games, a startup based in Lagos and London, is designing online games meant to appeal to users in Nigeria and across the African continent. Founder Hugo Obi and his team draw on specific cultural references to create titles like Mosquito Smasher (which is exactly what it sounds like) and Okada Ride (a driving game involving an okada, a type of motorbike popular in Lagos). Currently, the games are free and Web-based, but Okada Ride has made it into the Nokia app store, and the goal is to make them available for iOS, Android, and other platforms.

What’s the Big Idea?

Maliyo is one of the newest companies attempting to take advantage of the burgeoning African mobile device market, where smartphones are proliferating and connectivity costs are dropping. Jonathan Hoehler at Deloitte Digital South Africa says, “There are more than 700 million mobile connections across Africa…The market for mobile games is strong, particularly when associated with key [cultural] themes.” Obi says there are technical as well as cultural hurdles to overcome going forward: “Traditionally, Africans don’t use credit or debit cards to purchase [games online].” However, he believes that his games can draw users all over the world looking for “an African narrative…through games.”

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