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Sélima Ben Amara : “Orange is a key player in e-sports in Africa”

As an official sponsor of AFCON 2023, the Orange Group has been supporting the event for almost twenty years. It is also a key player in the promotion and development of African eSports, both in Africa and internationally. Sélima Ben Amara, Communication, Commercial & Sponsoring Director, Orange Middle East and Africa, explains the strategy, the challenges and the impact of the event.

Orange is interested in African sport. Why and how?

We have been investing in and supporting African sport for many years, particularly through sponsorship of sporting events, particularly football. Orange has been a long-standing partner of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for over twenty years. Our common goal is to promote gender equality and we are very proud to be a partner of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations. The second is connectivity. We are working to provide our customers with better connectivity so that they can experience, enjoy and share the passion of football. The final point is inclusion. In particular, we are relying on our network of Orange Digital Centers (ODCs) to offer young people the opportunity to code around the theme of football.

In addition, from 2018, we have decided to become a key player in e-sport to bring out African talent. These players are often unable to participate in international competitions due to a lack of resources. We want to help these players take advantage of these competitions, play at the highest level and thereby represent the continent. 

Orange is once again the official sponsor of AFCON 20234, currently taking place in Côte d’Ivoire. What activities is the Group organizing alongside the competition and what are its objectives?

This AFCON is being held in a country where we are present, Côte d’Ivoire, and where Orange is a strong and important player. Our main objective is to make this great celebration of African sport as enjoyable as possible. We start by offering fans the best possible connectivity. In the stadiums, on their smartphones, at home with broadband, etc. Orange Côte d’Ivoire is also organizing various events on the sidelines of the tournament so that everyone can enjoy the party to the full, for example in the fan zones, several of which have been set up by Orange Côte d’Ivoire.

As you said, Orange is also actively supporting eSports in Africa. What is the continent’s potential in this area and how is Orange helping to harness it?

The potential is huge. The global eSports market is already very large. In Africa, it’s growing every year, driven by the youth and development of the continent. At our level, we are supporting this drive by helping to develop African talent. We’re doing this in four main ways. First, connectivity. You can’t play online if you don’t have a good connection. That is why the Orange Group is investing €1 billion a year to improve connectivity, both in terms of coverage and in terms of speed. 

The second area is access to video games. In most of our countries, we offer wide access to game catalogues through our partners, making access to video games more democratic. 

The third area is the organization of sports events. As I said, gamers don’t always have the opportunity to take part in international competitions. What’s more, there is a lack of eSports tournaments in Africa. That is why we have been organizing the Orange eSport Experience since 2018, the latest edition of which, a special edition of eFootball 2024, took place on January 19 and 20 in Abidjan alongside the Africa Cup of Nations, bringing together 13 African countries. We are very proud that the winner, a player from Madagascar, will be able to spend a week in Japan immersed in the Sony eEntertainment studios. This reflects our commitment to developing African talent. 

Officially launched in 2018, the Orange eSport Experience competition has already seen four editions of pan-African finals. Today, 18,000 African gamers are registered on the platform to take part in the various tournaments. It’s the place to be for the best eSport players in Africa!

The fourth and final area is the promotion of African culture. We realized that there was a lack of African representation in video games. So we asked 3 African designers to draw avatars and costumes representing the 3 major regions of the continent.  

The global market for video games is booming. Here too, Africa is poorly represented, even though African designers and production companies are developing and launching African-made games. Is Orange also involved at this level? 

In fact, we have a general desire to support the creation of African content, not only gaming content, but also musical and cultural content in general. 

What activities will you be supporting around eSports in 2024? 

We want to continue to promote eSports. We want to nurture talent, develop e-sport activities and help create opportunities for young gaming talent, encourage their development and contribute to the development of the eSports ecosystem on the continent. We have very high ambitions for the Orange eSport Experience. We’re going to run it again, not necessarily in the same format, but we’ll probably run it again in 2024. 

Related article : Côte d’Ivoire: Orange for more gaming in Africa!

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