Evans Kiragu is a game developer and founder of Mekan Games based in Nairobi, Kenya. Kiragu has created more than 80 mobile titles but his breakthrough came when he created the game “The President” and the outcome was more than he had anticipated.
The President became number one in the U.S. download charts in July this year. The app had over 229k downloads on android and over 285k downloads on IOS since launching in February.
The President, based on a fictionalized Donald Trump, was inspired by the former U.S. President’s constant presence on social media, particularly Twitter, which Kiragu and his team found hilarious.
“We decided to zone in on the humour — it is about being a powerful president but making very silly, hilarious decisions as you go. It worked like magic,” he told Bloomberg.
His idea stood out when he traveled to Cape Town South Africa for a four-month training camp attended by other talented game developers.
Mekan Games will make about $1 million, enough to keep it afloat for three years. Meanwhile, Africa has some 200 million gamers generating more than $1 billion in revenue, according to Cordel Robbin-Coker, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Carry1st, one of the firms that hosted the training camp in 2021.
“It is really tough to make a commercially successful game and it is amazing that in our first cohort, we had a team from Kenya that had one. The US is the biggest, most competitive market,” Robbin-Coker told Bloomberg.
Robbin-Coker further noted that the success of The President shows that Africans have the talent yet to be tapped. And the spread of the internet on the continent has made games more accessible to more users from low-income earners and women.
Meanwhile, the gaming industry is expected to grow in Africa in the coming years. So far, the continent accounts for just 1 percent of the $100 billion global industry. Kiragu told Bloomberg that he will continue to focus on more developed markets such as the U.S.
Kiragu said he was motivated to venture into the gaming industry because the sector has largely been unexplored. He added that the global figure of over $100 billion also captured his attention.
“Weirdly, the fact that the industry is unexplored was motivation enough. I had been in the tech space long enough to see the blow-up of other interactive media industries,” he told techmoran.
“And so I had a feeling when starting out that it will happen in the gaming industry too. It is already happening all around the world, even in Hollywood where gaming is bringing in more money, compared to movies and music combines. With a global figure of $111 Billion, the gaming industry captured my attention. And believe me when I say that the local industry is showing some great potential.”
Kiragu holds Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and a certificate in web and android application development. He also attended the University of Cambridge to pursue Organizational Leadership.