‘With Increased Usage, Nigeria can Tap into $100bn Gaming Industry’ - Sundiata Tech


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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

‘With Increased Usage, Nigeria can Tap into $100bn Gaming Industry’

Silas Adekunle a young Nigerian entrepreneur based in the UK is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Reach Robotics, which is a company creating the future of entertainment by fusing robotics, augmented reality and video games. Adekunle graduated with First Class Honours from the West of England University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in robotics technology. At the Techplus 2017 conference and exhibition, he spoke on various ways he is channeling his lifelong passion for biology, video games and robotics into a first-of-its-kind experience. Excerpts: 


Please tell us about Reach Robotics?

Reach Robotics is creating a gaming platform that combines Robotic and augmented reality in the UK but I am a Nigerian. Our company, Reach Robotics recently launched its inaugural product, MekaMon, a competitive gaming platform that combines advanced robots with videogames via augmented reality game play, controlled by smartphone. 


Do you intend to launch in Nigeria anytime soon?

Yes, we are definitely interested in this region, especially at the entrepreneurship level. We are interested to looking from the UK market, supporting the Nigerian market and supporting entrepreneurship in technology. We are also strongly looking at distributing the game in the country and across the continent. We started this project in 2013.


How has the technology community in Nigeria received Reach Robotics so far?


It’s been great so far. The reception has been good, a lot of public interest, a lot of industry, a lot of interest from big gaming companies and investors as well. Things will start yielding results soon, I believe.


Where would you place Nigeria in terms of tapping into the huge global gaming industry?

The gaming industry globally as at the late 2016 was about $100 billion dollars worth. I think the UK makes up a good chunk of that and it about or close to a tenth of billion, not really the largest. If you want to look for the big chunk of the gaming industry, look at Asia and North America. In terms of gaming in Nigeria, i would say we have not reached our potentials. However, there is a lot of prospects here because there are lots of consumers in Nigeria  but the monetization isn’t that large at the moment. The industry is still young especially as it will take a while for mobile phones that are compliant and tablets to be pervasive. So, once you have the infrastructure in place, which is the devices to support the game, after that you will then have the consumers being able to come in there to play their part then other things will follow.


There are a lot of Nigerians interested in gaming as a hobby but have not been able to develop a financial benefit for it. How would you encourage them to key into the vision to see the gaming industry become a big business in the country?

There are innovative things that can be done. Patience and consistency is key.  It takes time for people to catch up massively and realise what is happening. Those Nigerian gaming enthusiasts are already at the forefront which is good for them. It means that by the time other people try to catch up, they are already miles and miles ahead. What I will say to the Nigerian tech entrepreneurs is to keep doing they do and to keep creating because the only way to get people interested is to show them. They must create something consistently; I know that finances are hard and getting capital is hard but anything you can do you just do that, work hard, fine-tune the product and eventually you find someone who will support and the population will catch up, the Nigerian tech industry will catch up and understand the value of the game in the industry. It might take more time especially because of the initial barrier of entry, because the devices are there.


At what stage does gaming as a business start to generate profit?

Money is made in the gaming industry at the platform level, at the developer level because the developer, the content creator need tools to create the games. Money is also made at the content level. So someone has to create the art, the music. It is a vibrant industry. Money is also made from the devices that are sold for the game. Money is made from the consumer that buys the game. So when they keep playing the game, money is also made. It is a big global business that can empower individuals and draw in finances into the economy.


Are you impressed by the growth of technology and gaming in Nigeria as seen at tech plus 2017?

I think tech plus2017 is amazing. There are so many young and hungry entrepreneurs with such bright future ahead of them. They are very keen, asking the right question on how I do these stuffs. Asking he relevant questions and getting information can build a great future in terms of tech for Nigeria. I think it is good to bring them together in one place so that they can come and share these ideas. When you start to share these ideas then things will start to happen and we will move forward.

What kind of things do you really produce for consumers?

We produce competitive game, raw playing games. The unique thing about the technology is that it allows you to have a video character in the real world. You just use your phone to control that robot. Our game allows you to do everything you want with a robot depending on how you manipulate the robot.


Can gaming be taught in schools?

O yes, gaming is a great way to teach. You can even use it to teach mathematics, engineering and science. So learning becomes fun.


What are the top gaming economies in the world?

China is there. Then North America, and Canada.  Korea is almost at par with them and then India. The business might not be as big comparatively in India but because of the number of usage, the country has become a big player. So revenue-wise, they are up there. The UK spends a lot of money on gaming but not all that high because of the population. Nigeria, with huge population has good prospects but is quite low at the moment. We need time to grow. We are doing a great job so far.


Looking at the Nigerian economy, what should the government and stakeholders do to ensure that the gaming industry grows to compete with advanced markets?

As I noted earlier, I think it is a nascent industry, still young. The biggest step is for the government to first of all recognise that tech is the way forward and support low level programming and incentives in schools. We need to work on the learning steps, science and then make science and technology appealing to the young ones. And then, for the big corporation that are catering for consumers- the phones companies like Samsung that are already established in Nigeria, they can also support the gaming industry, accelerate it and invest in it. Eventually, this will create contents that work.


How much have you invested in Reach robotics since start of business in 2013 till date and how beneficial has your investment been?

We have invested significant amount allowing us to manufacture our robot in China, to launch globally and this year, we are going across US and Europe. We are now setting up partnership in Nigeria to see how we can distribute to Nigeria and across Africa. We have fifteen employees, me included. I am the head of technology. We have the rest of the team. So our company has units that support from creation to marketing to sales. It’s all team work.


How many years do you think it would take Nigeria to catch up with the gaming market in UK, Asia, US and others?

It will take quality time to catch up. Nigeria will need to get to work and work really hard. But the beauty of computing is that it is not linear. When you have two computing, you don’t create two games. You can create four, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four. The more work you do at the foundation level, the more the fighting chance you give the youth of Nigeria to compete at the global scale. Guess what determines the chances of the gaming industry in any country are usage. The massive usage is the value. You measure the number of users. Do they keep coming back? How much revenue is being generated by users? There are few metric that different companies will measure and it is now left for the company to determine what metric is important to them.


How affordable is your Mekamon robot which was demonstrated live at the techplus 2017 exhibition? 


It costs $299 and lasts for as long as you want.

Business Day.

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