The Africa Cup of Nations, commonly known as AFCON, takes place this year in Cameroon. Though initially scheduled for last year, it was postponed until January 2022. The competition is regarded as one of the biggest football tournaments in the world and works as a stage to broadcast African talent.

With the first kick-off on January 9th and the final match played on February 6th, this period marks an important time for African sports in general, as well as its exploding market of sports betting. As the eyes of football fans turn to Cameroon for this thrilling tournament, there is sure to be an increased interest in the African gaming market.

Read on to learn more about AFCON and explore insights into African sports betting.

History of AFCON

The first Africa Cup of Nations was played in Sudan in 1957 and won by Egypt, who defeated the host nation in its final. This first tournament was only played between three countries: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. However, the total number of countries participating grew to 24 by 2019.

In the earlier years, Egypt dominated the Cup, but Ghana and Cameroon each had successful periods over the decades since. Egypt has stayed a strong contender in recent years, but teams like Nigeria and Algeria have shown progress too. Key players in the tournament’s past have been the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Michael Essien, Ahmed Hassan, Didier Drogba, and Jay-Jay Okocha.

Can you remember all previous AFCON winners? Take this quiz from the BBC to find out!

AFCON 2021 Highlights

As usual, the African Cup is set to be a spectacle as stars from the top European leagues and around the world gather to play for their home countries. For those in the sports betting market, this represents an integral time as interest in African sports spikes, with over 300 million viewers tuning in from 160 countries.

Egyptian soccer player Mo Salah runs with the ball away from South African defender.

Mohamed Salah of Egypt during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group A match between Egypt and South Africa at Cairo International Stadium.

Notable stars participating this year include Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané for Egypt and Senegal respectively, Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez for Algeria, Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho for Nigeria, AC Milan’s Franck Kessie for Ivory Coast, and PSG’s Achraf Hakimi for Morocco.

Check out in-depth stats from AFCON 2021 so far here, thanks to The Analyst!

The Rise Sports Betting in Africa

Within Africa, more and more countries are welcoming gaming and gambling services. This, combined with increased accessibility to online services, means the continent represents an emerging market with a huge potential for growth.

Nigeria’s betting market alone, which is second behind South Africa, accounts for more than $45 million USD. Other countries that are open to sports betting and other gaming include Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania, and Uganda. However, South Africa dominates the market encompassing over 80% of the entire industry.

Although South Africa accounts for more than 80% of the African sports betting market, Nigeria’s online gambling contributes over $45 million USD, and other countries are quickly following suit.

Significantly, the most popular way to bet on sports in Africa is via mobile device. Many of the bettors are within the ages of 18-24, so the on-the-go versatility of mobile betting is desirable. Additionally, large mobile companies like Airtel and Safaricom now offer mobile money services and have partnered with online sports betting brands. The most bet-on sports are mainly football, horse racing, rugby, and cricket.

How it Applies to Operators and Affiliates?

Africa is a continent passionate about sports and the AFCON tournament is arguably its biggest sporting event. Consisting of over 24 countries and showcasing both iconic names as well as emerging ones, the competition is full of talent and attracts hundreds of millions of viewers. As a beacon for African sports, it also provides a valuable source of traffic for the African sports betting market.

If you are interested in this growing market, either as an operator or affiliate, understanding its sports industry and major features like AFCON 2021 can help make the most of your customer acquisition and marketing initiatives.