Sports business market overview in Africa


African entrepreneurs are at the forefront of various initiatives, ranging from grassroots sports development to the organization of major sporting events. These endeavors offer the potential to enhance the financial value and organizational framework for African sports talent and its associated businesses.

In 2024, the global sports industry has undergone a profound transformation,
embracing a fully commercialized approach. Today, every aspect of the sports world is infused with commercial interests ranging from sponsorships and advertising to broadcasting rights and merchandise sales, financial considerations dictate nearly every decision made by stakeholders in the industry.

Existing revenue estimates for the global sports industry range from $471 billion to $1.4 trillion, it is also set to increase with new events joining the calendar. With enormous potential for job creation, promoting health and well-being, and encouraging social inclusion. According to reviews the sport sector in Africa was worth 7 billion dollars in 2018, a figure that is estimated to reach 12 billion dollars or more by 2027.

Sporting events in Africa are no longer merely contests of skill and endurance but also high-stakes business ventures, where success is measured not only in terms of victories on the field but also in the balance sheets of corporations and the revenues of host nations, individuals or groups.

In Africa, football, basketball, table tennis, and cricket are leading the way, with American football and its extension also emerging and becoming part of the market landscape. This trend underscores the idea that sports are not just recreational activities but also lucrative businesses, capable of serving dual purposes.

The international sports markets for basketball and American football for instance show significant growth potential beyond football. Dominant sports leagues in the United States; the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) continue to actively seek out talent on the African continent to continue to deliver high-level competitions. This increasing demand for African talent serves as a catalyst for sports entrepreneurs on the continent to innovate and spearhead initiatives aimed at capitalizing on the opportunities within the sports industry in the United States and around the world.

As a case study, The Confederation of African Football (CAF) estimated that nearly 2 billion people watched the just concluded 2023 Africa Cup of Nations live. A significant increase from the previous record of 65 million viewers in 2022. The tournament was broadcast to 180 countries across the world, giving a reach for several business ideas in the African football ecosystem.

In Nigeria, a number of sports marketers and companies have reshaped this narrative.

For instance, the Lagos City Marathon, now a Gold Label race recognized by World
Athletics and other top regulatory bodies, is owned by Nilayo Sports Management
Limited, a Nigerian company.

Since its inception nearly a decade ago, the marathon has evolved into a prominent
annual event in Africa. With prize money, extensive publicity, post-event concerts, and various associated activities, the marathon offers opportunities for everyone, including volunteers, to work and earn, thereby fostering wealth creation and generating numerous employment opportunities.

Another noteworthy initiative is the annual International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Nigeria Seamaster Table Tennis competition held in Lagos. This event attracts Ping Pong experts from around the globe who converge on the “Center of Excellence” to showcase their skills, accumulate ranking points, and capitalize on financial opportunities.

Meanwhile, countries like Egypt, South Africa, and Morocco are leading the way in
African football, setting a high standard for others to follow.

Morocco has hosted several sport events in the last two years including the Women
Africa Cup of Nations and the CAF awards. The nation is also preparing a bid for the
senior World Cup in future.

The Basketball Africa League (BAL), a synergy between FIBA and the NBA, has created opportunities for individuals beyond just players on the court. To facilitate league operations in Africa, the BAL constructed stadiums, trained coaches and referees, and employed stadium staff for various roles, from ticket sales and concessions to maintenance tasks.

In essence, the BAL has and will continue to offer economic growth and employment
prospects in host countries where thousands of jobs are required annually.

Individuals and entrepreneurs are also actively engaging in the development of Africa’s emerging sports business market.
Nigerian entrepreneur Shola Akinlade, co-founder of Paystack, a widely-utilized
payments platform in Africa, drew attention when he acquired a majority stake in Danish football club Aarhus Fremad Fodbold. Additionally, Akinlade owns Sporting Lagos FC, a professional football club based in Lagos, competing in the first division of the Nigerian Premier League. This move has not only created business opportunities within Lagos but beyond, showcasing the potential for growth and investment in African sports.

Kingsley Pungong, the Founder and CEO of Rainbow Sports Group, a Cameroonian-born
entrepreneur with extensive experience in initiating and managing businesses across
Africa, the UK, and the USA, is committed to improving football opportunities for African athletes.The organization intends to diversify its portfolio by venturing into other sports such as martial arts, boxing, basketball, and more. The overarching goal is to establish Rainbow Sports Group as a reputable platform for training and promoting world-class athletes across various sporting disciplines.

The sports business market in Africa is experiencing significant growth, albeit requiring substantial investment. However, the potential rewards are substantial, particularly with consistency and the acknowledgment that sports is inherently business-oriented.

Accredited to SWA Sports


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