The Lagos state government and France have signed a bilateral agreement that will lay the groundwork for the growth of e-sports in Nigeria.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Mrs. Emmanuelle Blatmann.
The MoU will allow professional e-sports players in Lagos to compete in real-time online communities and earn fortunes from the multibillion dollar industry.
The French partners will provide a top-notch online gaming infrastructure as part of the bilateral partnership, enabling gamers in Lagos to transition from being casual participants to competitive gamers across online leagues.
The development was met with excitement from the local association of e-sports players, which described the partnership as long overdue.
E-sports are organised competitive video games played in real time and watched by millions of participants across the world.
There is an estimate of 42 million e-sports players in Nigeria, with Lagos boasting of a growing population of casual and competitive video game players, who invest resources to participate in online competition.
Sanwo-Olu claimed that Lagos would open up options through the MoU for the younger generation, who make up the majority of players, to earn lawful incomes from online gaming while also developing new avenues for youth participation.
He said: “Signing this MoU is the beginning of another long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship between Lagos and France. We are delighted to be laying the foundation for the development of this industry and becoming the first city in this part of Africa to do it. We are building something new, fresh and organic which will grow and uplift our youths in the IT world. This is the essence of this collaboration and the time is right to give our young people a new lease of life in the e-sports industry.
“Our enthusiasm is raised because, aside from the money to be earned from the industry, there would be skills and knowledge to be shared and transferred among our citizens taking part in the online sports. Technology, innovation and creativity are part of things we are committing great investment into in order to improve youth engagement. It is our belief that all the players will get to see the benefit of having this partnership between the two Governments.”
The Governor said e-sports would also give players the opportunity to further hone their skills in information technology and deepen their knowledge and creativity.
To effectively explore and leverage the opportunities in the industry, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government, through Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), had established the Lagos State E-sports Association, and embarked on consensus building among all the e-sports stakeholders to forge a common front in building vibrant and sustainable ecosystem.
“It is really to ensure we can create the avenue and space for our smart and intelligent young people to tap into opportunities in the tech-driven industry and deepen their learning through engagement with their peers across the world,” Sanwo-Olu said.
In addition, Lagos became the first city to be partnered by the French Government in Africa, according to Blatmann, who noted that the MoU contained the activities and policy roadmap that would enhance e-sports in the nation.
The ambassador promised that French investors were prepared to establish the business with their Nigerian counterparts and claimed that the cooperation would propel and redefine engagement with a growing number of young gamers.
Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Hon. Segun Dawodu, disclosed that the journey to seal the partnership started over a year ago, promising that the State Government would work with the partners to regulate the online gaming industry and make it efficient.
Sidney Esiri (Dr. SID), a top e-sports player and popular Hip-hop artiste, described the collaboration as a “right step,” noting that e-sport was becoming a new mainstay among the youth to earn legitimate money. He praised the Lagos government and France for launching the collaboration to make the industry viable.