Providing a lower-latency connection between Africa and North America for competitive gaming offers benefits to far more people than the people who play games.
This is according to gaming and esports consultant Brad Kirby, who was speaking during AC Talks – a series of short talks hosted by Angola Cables at AfricaCom 2019.
Angola Cables operates the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) — the first transatlantic link connecting Africa to the Americas. SACS helps reduce the latency to the Americas substantially.
SACS launched commercial services in September 2018, connecting Sangano in Angola to Fortaleza in Brazil. Sangono is connected to South Africa via several undersea cables.
From Fortaleza, Angola Cables offers a route to North America via the MONET consortium cable, in which it has a stake. Other investors include Google, Antel (Uruguay), and Algar Telecom (Brazil). Angola Cables has access to two of the six fibre pairs on MONET.
Latency between Cape Town and Miami are reduced from 300ms or more using conventional routes, to as low as 163ms on SACS and MONET.
MyBroadband’s own testing when Cool Ideas started using SACS showed that it reduced latency to Miami from around 265ms to 222ms.
Scaling the Southern hemisphere
In addition to the immediate benefit of lower latency, linking Africa and South America can mean longer-term advantages for gaming in the Southern hemisphere.
Currently, regions like sub-Saharan Africa and South America do not typically attract the attention of the developers of major esports titles.
However, Kirby said that if the two regions can pool their player numbers for tournaments and other events, it could encourage greater investment from game publishers.
The low latency link between Brazil and Angola makes it more feasible for players from Africa and South America to compete with one another, and pool their numbers for such tournaments.
Unlocking new digital economies
Helping to foster a thriving gaming and esports scene in Africa is not only good for competitors and other players. It unlocks opportunities and can help teach young people many different skills.
Kirby said that gaming enables many spin-off industries, all made possible by high-quality connectivity.
This includes people who make media about games, such as YouTube videos and podcasts. There are also roles for professional shoutcasters — people who comment during matches similar to traditional sports commentators.
Aside from the jobs that can be created directly by the online gaming industry in Africa, young people can also learn valuable skills along the way – whether this is how to operate a video camera, how to edit audio and video, what it’s like to perform in front of a camera, or simply how to lose (or win) graciously.