The biggest game on the African continent The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) came to a dramatic end on Sunday, February 11, with a nail-biting final between Ivory Coast and Nigeria. The host nation, Ivory Coast lifted the trophy for the third time in their history after defeating the Super Eagles 2-1 at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan. The Elephants celebrated their historic achievement in front of more than 36,000 ecstatic fans who witnessed the first AFCON title on home soil since 1992. The winners got a gold cup and a grand prize of $5 million, while Nigeria received $3 million. This electrifying finale wasn’t just a thrilling match but a celebration of African football, uniting the continent.

Yet, the real impact of AFCON transcends the glory of the champions and the thrill of the fans. All through the tournament, a quieter victory unfolded across the continent as millions of people tuned in to watch the games, and thousands of businesses capitalized on the opportunities created by the event. This was especially true in countries that got to the finale. The tournament had 24 teams represented which translates to 24 African countries. As long as a country had a football culture, businesses there benefitted.

Media and entertainment

AFCON 2023 was a showcase of African football talent, featuring some of the continent’s biggest stars such as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, and Sebastien Haller. The tournament attracted a huge global audience, as it was broadcast to over 200 countries and territories, reaching a cumulative viewership of nearly two billion people. The average live match rating was 6.1, making it one of the most watched AFCON editions ever. The final match alone drew an estimated 300 million viewers worldwide. Market research analysis indicates that this would result in $75 million for CAF – Confederation of African Football. The confederation had faced a financial challenge because of legal problems with its broadcast partners in the recent past.

For some African countries that have been battling high inflation and economic crises, the tournament offered a welcome escape. However, this wasn’t just entertainment; it was an economic engine. The massive media exposure generated by AFCON 2023 was a boon for the host country. Football brings people together. Many African cities capitalise on this communal characteristic of the sport by establishing viewing centres, where shared screens become catalysts for passionate discussions, banter, and unforgettable celebrations.

AFCON also boosted the revenue and reputation of media outlets and sponsors that covered the event. CAF had 17 commercial partners for the tournament, including title sponsor TotalEnergies, official sponsors 1xBet, Visa, and Orange, and regional sponsors like Ecobank, Unilever, and MTN. According to market research firm GlobalData, CAF earned around $75 million in sponsorship revenue from AFCON 2023. 

Local businesses score big

This point mainly goes out to Ivory Coast seeing it was the host country. The influx of local and foreign visitors stimulated the local economy, especially in the host cities of Abidjan, Bouake, Yamoussoukro, and San Pedro. Although not much was generated from foreign fans, seeing that people did not travel as much due to the economic situation across the continent, local businesses benefited from the increased consumption and spending of the local population who were gripped by the AFCON fever. The hospitality, catering, transportation, and local entertainment sectors saw a surge in demand for their products and services, as fans flocked to the stadiums, hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. According to the Ivorian Ministry of Tourism, the tournament generated about $200 million in direct and indirect income for the country. A survey by the African Development Bank also shows that AFCON 2023 created about 50,000 jobs in Ivory Coast, mostly in the SME and informal sectors.

The tournament equally created a festive atmosphere and a sense of national pride in other nations as people cheered for their teams and celebrated their victories. Vibrant community viewing centres meant increased consumption of food and drinks, especially beer, the staple drink for football lovers. The demand for products such as jerseys, flags, banners, and fireworks increased, creating opportunities for small and medium enterprises and informal traders to make profits. 

Textile triumph

The textile and apparel industry was one of the biggest winners of the 2023 AFCON, as the demand for jerseys and other merchandise skyrocketed across the continent. According to a report by GITNUX, the global apparel market was estimated to generate $1.7 trillion in 2023, a 13.7% year-over-year increase. The African market accounted for $68 billion of this revenue, with a 9.2% growth rate from 2022.

Local and foreign companies seized the opportunity to produce and sell their products, showcasing the diversity and quality of African fabrics and designs. Brands such as Dignity Textiles, Afrocentric Clothing, and Naija Fashion, supplied customized outfits to fans and teams. Dignity Textiles reported a 35% increase in sales during the tournament, while Afrocentric Clothing and Naija Fashion saw their online orders double. Eco-friendly textile brands leveraged the tournament to boost visibility too. Brands like EcoWear, Green Fashion, and AfriCotton used organic, recycled, or biodegradable materials to create products for players and fans alike. Ghanaian player, Mohammed Kudus wore an EcoWear shirt with a “Save the Planet” slogan on the front. William Troost-Ekong, the captain of the Nigerian team, wore eco-friendly boots made by Sokito, a company that produces sustainably made football boots from materials such as bamboo, corn waste, and sugarcane.

Sports betting

The sports betting industry in Africa is a lucrative and fast-growing sector, with Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa being the largest markets. According to a market report by Astute Analytica, the gambling market in Africa is worth $37 billion, with the online sports betting segment accounting for 40% of the market share. AFCON was a major attraction for sports bettors who placed bets on the outcomes of the matches and individual performances. This increased the volume and value of bets placed, as well as the number of new and active users. Betting platforms posted wins.

However, this also raised some ethical and social concerns about the impact of gambling on society as many Africans expressed their frustration and anger after losing their bets by cyberbullying the players. Still, the gambling and betting industry is a big part of the economy. The market in Africa is projected to reach $78.4 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 7.54%. Online gambling is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.2% during the same forecast period.

Social media

From lively banter between fans to live streams and updates, AFCON dominated social media. But social media was not only a source of entertainment for many; it was also a platform for income generation. Last year, Twitter launched its Creator Ads Revenue Sharing program, which allows users to earn a share of the ad revenue generated by the sponsored posts appearing under their tweets. Some users were able to monetize their content and influence either by partnering with brands, joining subscription programs, or receiving tips from their followers. For example, a video of the final moments of the final match between Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, where the hosts scored the winning goal in the 89th minute on the official account of CAF had over 15 million views, 1.5 million likes, and 300,000 retweets. According to a report by Statista, the average cost per thousand impressions for social media ads worldwide was $4.33 in the second quarter of 2023. A rough estimation of the ad revenue would be about $65,000.

On YouTube, people had commentary channels, where they uploaded highlights, interviews, and opinions about the tournament. On Instagram, @afrocentric_clothing, a local company that supplied customized outfits for fans and teams, had a reel that featured some of the players wearing their products, which had over 500,000 views and 10,000 comments. The hashtag #AFCON2023 was trending for days, as fans and celebrities shared their reactions, predictions, and analysis of the matches. AFCON sparked a social media frenzy, with #AFCON topping Twitter trends for the week leading up to the finale and even days after the finale.

Inherently, AFCON 2023 was more than a football tournament. The tournament catalysed economic development, fostered local businesses, boosted industries, and created jobs. The total revenue from this tournament is expected to outstrip the $125.2 million generated from all sources during the previous edition in Egypt. It’s a reminder that the true winners are not just the champions on the field, but the entire continent that thrives on its passion for the game of football.

Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow