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Gaming an avenue for income, jobs

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27 – Kenya’s budding gaming culture could be a solution to the country’s high unemployment rates among the youth, according to industry heads.

Kenya ICT Board Chief Executive Officer Paul Kukubo said the country has the potential to become a game-testing hub, attracting major industry players while giving youth an opportunity to generate income.

“The global gaming industry will be worth about $70billion by 2013. So we need more people to play games so that we can convince the gaming companies abroad that we have enough of a population here which understands games to become a testing centre. Testing is a huge business; a form of outsourcing,” he said.

Kukubo added that the Board plans to roll-out software training programs early next year, in efforts to make locally developed software internationally marketable.

NexGen Chief Executive Nathan Masyuko, who also refers to himself as the Chief Executive Gamer of the company, has been attempting to create awareness on Kenya’s growing gaming community over the years.

“What we are geared towards is getting our gamers here to be internationally viable. We already have gamers who compete online and do pretty well. So now it’s just giving them a platform for them to compete,” he said.

NexGen is an electronic sports company that engages local gamers, having already recruited 1,000 members and plans to create a gaming league system.

Masyuko, who is a professional gamer himself, said the electronic sport can be quite lucrative offering several avenues to make bucks.

“There are three ways gamers make money; one is through endorsement by gaming companies. Secondly, prize money that ranges from $10,000 to $200,000 for competitions outside the country. The third way is playing online streaming games, where gamers can earn $40 to $50 an hour based on the number of views they get while playing,” he said.

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Mobile applications have taken off in Kenya in recent years, putting the country on the global technology map earning it the nickname “Silicon Savannah.”

The release of the Ma3Racer mobile game, by local digital entertainment developing company Planet Rackus, is one example of the developing mobile application market in Kenya.

In China alone Ma3Racer saw 800,000 downloads within a month of its release.

Tafsiri Entertainment Group Creative Director and coordinator of the Plugged Digital Expo Bernard Neto, said innovations in mobile application development have been instrumental in transforming the way we do business in Kenya as well.

“One of the benefits of being a third world country is that we are skipping steps. The West has gone through all these stages and in a way that helped us a lot because our infrastructure might not be as good as other places so we need things like this to leap over some hurdles. With mobile technology the sky is the limit,” he said.

The Plugged Digital Expo runs from November 4 to the 5 at the Sarit Centre, showcasing innovations from local content developers.

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