Sports and Tech Show Signs of Growth in Africa

February marked a key period for one of Africa’s prominent tech founders. Payment processing platform, Paystack, was acquired by Stripe back in January 2021 for $200 million. Since the acquisition, Paystack founder Shola Akinlade has had his sights set on another venture – bringing African startup wealth to world football.

On February 13, Akinlade saw his newly founded club – Sporting Lagos – play its first ever match in the second division of the Nigerian Professional Football League. While the team is currently still in its fledgling stage, there have already been some interesting signs that a new era of clubs, ownership, and sponsors could be upon us.

According to an article from Quartz Africa, the banners being displayed at the club’s first match were actually those of African startups, such as savings app Piggyvest and Helium Health. According to the article, the matchday experience was akin to a startup soccer match in much the same way the Super Bowl indexed heavily on crypto ads.

However, the scene at Sporting Lagos is not the norm. Many of the region’s sporting enterprises are state owned enterprises and run by the likes of governors – a model that is not conducive to innovation or growth.

Basketball is Also Seeing Potential for Growth

Soccer isn’t the only sport that has seen recent upgrades to it’s infrastructure in the region. In 2019, the NBA introduced the Basketball Africa League (“BAL”) and in 2021 announced its business operations in the region to oversee growth of the product. 

The reported enterprise value of the endeavor is over $1 billion with investments from the likes of Dikembe Mutombo, Grant Hill, Barack Obama, and Forest Whittaker.

While investment in sports properties have seen an uptick, particularly from the private sector, it’s the tech market that has really taken flight. In 2021, the region saw the most amount of venture investment ever.

  • $5.2 billion raised
  • Funding up 264% YoY
  • Growth stage deals ($100M +) up 426% YoY
  • Fintech received the most funding with $3.2 billion raised

The two sectors have ample room for continued growth and could ultimately benefit one another. In this week’s Heat Check we break down the growth in African sports and tech markets and the potential implications.

Check out the full Heat Check here.

ICYMI: Last week, we published a new Scouting Report on the Role of Live Streaming in Sports. You can access that report and our other of research at Insights HQ.