OBSERVATORY FOR SPORTS COMPANIES – Thanks to their star, Mr. Stephen Curry, the Golden States Warriors won the NBA title in 2022. What if France became Olympic champions in 2024 thanks to Joel Embiid? At the moment, the Cameroonian NBA superstar has taken administrative steps to get selected for the Blues. The case of the Sixers pivot raises the question of the evolution of basketball in Africa, a continent full of talent and fans, 2 key elements and many others that are (finally) taken into account by the NBA.
Félix Indaye is a retired professional basketball player who joined the ranks of the United States varsity championship, graduating with a Masters 2 in Sports Marketing and a Bachelors in International Commerce. He is a specialist in the commercial use of Jock products. Article written in collaboration with Damien Conrad, Aymeric Mercier and Antoine Frisch, ISEM students | Kedge BS.
In 2019, the Basketball Africa League (BAL) was formed in partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The competition is split between 12 teams from 12 different countries divided into 2 conferences (Sahara and Nile), which is similar to the American system. At the end of these 2 competitions, the 4 best teams from each conference will compete during the last four in Kigali, Rwanda.
An NBA interest in the African continent that goes beyond the field
With 73.2% African American players in the 2021-22 franchise rosters, the potential is “ talent of Africa appears as sporting evidence. The question has long been raised as to whether this region could become an axis of economic development.
In fact, recently the continent has been able to leverage its resources and foreign investment to become an attractive market. In recent years, a diversified economy has enabled the emergence of the middle class, thereby stimulating demand for consumer goods, services and luxury branded products. Rising consumer demand, coupled with annual growth of nearly 8%, boosted Africa’s GDP by around US$1.1 billion in 2019. However, some risks remain, such as B. the lack of infrastructure, poor governance, uncertain security and unreliable logistics. Fortunately, the conflicts are more local, democracy is well established in some regions and a positive and dominant trend is emerging.
Consumption capacity in Africa rests on five main pillars: growing middle class, population growth, youth dominance, rapid urbanization and rapid adoption of digital technologies. According to the French Development Agency, by 2050 Africa will have almost 2.4 billion inhabitants, half of whom will be under 25 years old. Young Africans, a large part of the emerging middle class, will crave greater choice in food, consumer and leisure products, and greater connectivity.
According to a study by the World Bank, the sports industry is expected to grow by more than 5% in the medium term, and young people are at the heart of this dynamic. Another consulting firm, IEG, points out that the NBA generally generates more than $8 billion in revenue a year, with viewers enjoying the combination of sports, fashion and music. With the largest free trade area in the world, the African continent is embarking on a radical new development path that can unleash the potential of sport, which today accounts for 2% of global GDP and just 0.5% of Africa’s GDP.
For more than 10 years, Africa has been building halls that can accommodate tens of thousands of spectators, notably in Egypt with the Cairo Stadium (16,000 seats), in Senegal with the Dakar Arena (15,000 seats), in Angola with the Kilamba Arena (12,000 seats) or in Rwanda with the Kigali Arena (10,000 seats). “ These spaces will of course be used to host the BAL competition in the years to come, and even a transport infrastructure is being prepared to connect these different countries to make it easier for spectators to access the competition. said Edwin Eslem, director of communications at NBA Africa.
In addition to these new infrastructures, Aïcha Diop, Marketing Director of the Basketball Africa League, explains that around the stadiums “ There are rooms to set up a fan zone with a stage where artists perform every day. And if it’s not artists, it could be schools or meeting celebrities “.
In 2021, the President of the BAL, Amadou Gallo Fall, explained to us in an interview how basketball has been a vector of economic development for Africa. “This is essential to sustain the Basketball Africa League project. If we believe in the entertainment product, we believe just as much in the impact this league will have on the sporting ecosystem in Africa. We want to create a basketball industry that creates jobs, especially through infrastructure and halls like the Dakar Arena, the Kigali Arena or the Kilamba Arena. A wide range of activities will develop around these basketball games, from which sectors such as gastronomy, hotels, transport, security, media and logistics will benefit. It is also an opportunity to show a different face of Africa.»
4 strategic pillars to develop an African elite
The aim of the BAL is to create the conditions for the development of a sustainable basketball economy. Developing the talent is essential to ensure success made in africa » by supporting African associations in their professionalisation, by working with governments (infrastructure, reforms, etc.) and by attracting key partners (businesses, media, agencies, foundations, etc.). In order to affirm and achieve its ambitions, the BAL’s objectives can be grouped into four axes as follows:
Obviously, athletic development is the most legitimate. In fact, FIBA Africa has always invested in the fundamental development of basketball, creating processes and foundations that allow the NBA to build more easily today. The role of associations is to create a robust ecosystem that allows local actors to thrive and prosper in their land. Creating competitive and professional competition, developing local associations, improving the ecosystem and retaining talent in Africa are the main axes of their strategy.
It is also a sociocultural development, for example the partnership with the AfD, which will use basketball to defend social development on the African continent in favor of underprivileged communities. As part of AFD’s support for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this partnership aims to improve access to education, well-being and inclusion for girls and women at all levels of society.
But also the development of the reputation of the BAL as a major international basketball league. The BAL tends to establish NBA culture in Africa after conquering Asia and Europe. In particular, numerous sponsors such as the brands Jordan or Nike and the involvement of opinion leaders such as former US President Barack Obama are involved in this process.
Finally the development economically With the infrastructure created, the stadiums and halls are intended to serve as sports facilities for the local clubs and for major sporting events. Depending on their configuration (playing area surface), modularity, additional spaces and prior arrangements, they may also be able to host a variety of non-sporting events. According to Julien Lepron, customer experience and location consultant, eight key revenue streams enable venues to maximize their activities: ticket sales, hospitality, merchandising, snacks, sponsorships, services, stadium activities outside of games, leisure activities. Around these sources of income, it is about developing skills and thus training local leaders.
Additionally, it is imperative for BAL to develop its partnerships around activations that highlight its partners in the public eye. “ For each partner we always do an event, it’s not an easy event where people meet to discuss, the aim is to organize activities aligned to the partners’ goals explains Aïcha Diop.
Africa is therefore a strategic and sensible choice for the NBA, which bets on a continent with full economic expansion, new and developing infrastructures, and a young, dynamic and growing middle-class population whose primary interest will be basketball. Vector of socioeconomic development. The ambition of the BAL therefore goes beyond basketball with a strong extra-sports vision and we can safely assume that it will be a great success since their strategy and their goals have been developed by the best players on the market.