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Exclusive: Beyond Borders- Igniting Africa’s Gaming Metamorphosis with Premier Projects

With 18 years of experience spanning multiple African countries, Alexandre Qader, the Head of Operations at Editec in Cameroon, discusses the nuances of African players, the impact of Premier Projects in CSR, and strategic collaborations with renowned athletes like Francis Ngannou. He uncovers their vision for nurturing African talents, building sports infrastructure, and fostering community growth through innovative initiatives like ‘Make a Wish’, aiming to make dreams a reality. 

iGaming AFRIKA: Alexandre, Tell us more about yourself.

Alexandre: I have been working on business development in Africa since 2005. I can actually define myself as an African citizen since I spent the last 18 years of my life on the African continent. I am passionate about 3 particular areas which are:  Gaming industry, African emergence & the Combat sports.

iGaming AFRIKA: How has your African experience been so far? 

Alexandre: For me Africa is much more than an experience, it is my life, I had the chance to live and work in many countries such as Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Congo, Kenya, Ghana, Chad, Burkina Faso and of course Cameroon where I  have currently settled for 6 years. I am very excited by the African emergence that I have experienced over the last 18 years and all the great collaboration I had over this period of time. Premier Projects Alexandre Qader

iGaming AFRIKA: You are an accomplished manager and executive with 18 years’ business experience, with a wide presence in African countries. Can we know why most of your career has been focused on the African continent? 

Alexandre: It all started in 2005 after my graduation from a French business school. I was offered a role in Benin whilst I didn’t know anything about Africa except what we could see on the news. Since I landed in Benin, I  never returned back to Europe except for holidays. I had the chance to develop a business with 3-digit growth the first year. I fell in love with the country, the continent and the culture. I understood it was the beginning of my new life. Then I moved from one country to another growing my experience and expertise on the African markets. I did an Executive Masters In Business Administration (MBA) at HEC Paris in 2016 before joining Editec Group that appointed me as their Chief Operations Officer ( COO) for Cameroon.

iGaming AFRIKA: Certainly, not many will have a vast experience such as the one you have on the African continent. You have operated in most African countries, both the Commonwealth and Francophone countries  at various capacities but with emphasis on gaming brands. Can you tell us what similarities and differences you have realised amongst African players? 

Alexandre: Well, to me every country is different and has its peculiarities, I like to remind my fellow colleagues or newcomers who try to understand African Markets that. I like to say that there are less similarities between a Cameroonian and a Togolese player for instance than between a French and an English player, lol, so there is definitely not one size fits all strategy in Africa. The level of sports betting player maturity in Cameroon is very high for instance, while lottery activities are still at their early stage and that may be completely different in other countries where lottery activities have been implemented for decades and sports betting may be relatively weaker.

iGaming AFRIKA: In your own words, “Premier Projects, the charity Division of Premier bet has transcended national boundaries and shown its genuine Pan-African dimension.” Why is Premier Projects an important feature in the African iGaming Landscape?

Alexandre: Premier Projects is the Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) division of Premier Bet. Editec has operated it in the African continent since 2019. Since 2021, we have focused on making a difference in sports. We work in over 11 African countries and believe in the power of sports to empower, educate and inspire the young generation.  

The core of our strategy is to have a tangible impact on the lack of sports infrastructure on the continent. We create or refurbish new sports facilities covering the most popular sports yearly. We want to ensure that our communities play, have fun, or learn a new sport in safe environments and facilities of good quality. Premier Projects Alexandre Qader

Every year, we commit to creating or refurbishing an average of 20 sports facilities across the continent, which is the essential action of our strategy. We built 25 facilities covering Basketball, Football, Netball, and MMA. Premier Projects Alexandre Qader

We call these facilities Premier Projects Arenas and are, in some cases, built in partnership with top-level African athletes (Francis Ngannou Foundation in Cameroon or Didier Drogba Foundation in Ivory Coast). 

We are also focused on creating new sports schools; we would like every country where we operate to have a Premier Projects Academy. In the Premier Projects Academy, we provide free coaches and regular training sessions to our members, intending to educate them on the values of sport, like team spirit and cooperation, competitiveness and resilience.

We made it possible to follow life in our academies via dedicated social media pages that share the activities and stories of our members. Every country with an academy has a dedicated social media channel. 

Every year, we aim to create some unforgettable sports experiences for the best talents of our academies. We leverage our connections with professional teams and athletes to make this happen. These stories are the basis for a documentary called “The Dream”. The Dream is distributed in over 50 African countries to inspire and educate the younger generations. In 2022, we told the story of Sebastiao and Lucas, two young football players from our football academy in Angola who travelled to Milan to meet their idol Rafael Leao and spend some time playing and interacting with Milan AC Primavera team and legends like Daniele Massaro and Franco Baresi. 

In 2023, Cameroon was the time. We followed Desmond and Emilios from Cameroon to the Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia to see them meeting their idol, Francis Ngannou, and learning from him the secrets to becoming MMA champions. 

Premier Projects is also promoting dedicated projects intending to enhance the awareness of the importance of food for our communities. We are working to develop the Premier Loto Gardens to assign plots of land to selected families, teaching them how to grow fruit and vegetables and supporting them with all the necessary to make it happen. We are also working with restaurant owners to create dedicated internships for African youth who dream of becoming chefs with a Premier Loto Chef program.

iGaming AFRIKA: What is your main role at Premier Projects? 

Alexandre: My role is basically to act as an Ambassador for Cameroon and to support its expansion across the country and beyond whenever it is possible on the model of this great synergistic collaboration that we developed with Ivory Coast including Premier Bet Ivory Coast, the MMA Federation of Ivory Coast (FIAMM) and of course our great champion Francis Ngannou and his foundation, with Iron Biby, the strongest man on the world as a special guest coming from Burkina Faso.

IGA: Is Premier Bet having any plans to reopen its doors in Kenya? 

Alexandre: What is for sure is that our Editec Chairman, Franck Attal and CEO, George Sanders have a holistic approach and a fantastic vision to develop a virtuous gaming industry on the continent; Kenya is a major market in Africa and there is a great potential to build a sustainable industry hand to hand with all the regulators and all the stakeholders.

iGaming AFRIKA: Why do you think it’s important for gaming brands across Africa to partner with like-minded artists and sportsmen like Francis Nganou to nurture talent across the continent? 

Alexandre: First of all, I would like to thank Francis Ngannou for his commitment, to the future of Cameroon in particular and of Africa as a whole. I think that he made history and opened so many doors for African fighters and athletes in general. He made a major contribution to the African emergence and his journey has just started. We have developed a unique collaboration with him and his foundation working hard to reveal African talents’ potential and make sure that they can benefit progressively from the best support possible and reach the stars ideally from the African continent. An African talent should be able to reach the highest level of the African continent, that‘s the vision.

iGaming AFRIKA: What touches you most about Francis Ngannou’s story? Is it something you see with other young talented athletes and how are you as a brand helping to touch lives? 

Alexandre: If you ask me, I think Francis is a hero of his generation. He started from the real bottom, faced the hardest challenges, and reached the top of the world in MMA and boxing despite incredible odds. Who could have bet on the fact that someone from Batié, a small village in West Cameroon, could become this lineal Combats Sports heavyweight champion of the world? If you would have bet on that 10 years ago, the odds would have made you a billionaire.

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iGaming AFRIKA: What are some of the biggest achievements of Premier Projects? 

Alexandre: We built a Combats Academy & Arena in Douala (Cameroon) that we opened in July 2023. It’s dedicated to combat sports, managed in close collaboration with Francis Ngannou and his foundation where African talents can benefit from all the support, facilities and equipment to train and progress to reveal their potential and full capacity. That’s still the early stage but we already have some promising fighters training very hard on site. For the opening ceremony, we organised a fighting event where 5 talented Cameroonians faced fighters from 5 different African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Congo, Ivory Coast). Premier Projects Alexandre Qader

iGaming AFRIKA: Why are you so passionate about the Premier Projects branch of Premier Bet? 

Alexandre: That’s what makes our role so rewarding, to be among those who actively contribute to African emergence. If in 3 or 5 years I could see some of our fighters being among the top world champions, that will be enough to make me happy. I could say that I brought my contribution to that and that is what makes me proud of being an Editec collaborator.

iGaming AFRIKA: Tell us more about your new Make a Wish campaign that is enabling players to achieve their dream project and the motivation behind it? 

Alexander: In another vein, Make a Wish intends to support some members of our players’ community to realize their dreams. We launched this concept recently and our first winner who is a chef and always dreamt of having their own restaurant. We are currently working with them on the fulfilment of this dream. We helped the winner to find the right location in Yaoundé, negotiated and paid for the lease agreement, the fitting work, the equipment, so we actually brought our full support financially  and also legally and business-wise and the winner should be ready to open it in a few weeks from now. The winner will call it “La Marmite d’Or d’Afrique” (The African Golden Kettle) and hopefully I will be there for the opening so we could celebrate and eat some great and tasty grills.

iGaming AFRIKA: Premier Projects has a vision for the future to enable African Talents to flourish globally. Are you also supporting countries that you do not have operations in or the Premier Projects campaigns are only being implemented in countries you are active in only? 

Alexandre: Well, for instance our Combats Academy & Arena with Francis Ngannou Foundation is open and free to access for anyone from Africa, the only condition as stated by Francis is discipline, hard work and determination, no matter where you come from. Also, if it is true that we mainly focus on implementing facilities in countries where we already operate. Editec, as a group, is expanding quickly and there are not so many countries where it is not yet implemented, so over time I guess we should be able to cover the entire continent.

iGaming AFRIKA: Congratulations on receiving the MTN Digitalization Award a couple of months ago. What does this mean for EDITEC’s digital transformation in the near future and your growth in Africa? 

Alexandre: Digitalization is another major topic but still related to African emergence. We are happy to be a major contributor of this process and to collaborate with major stakeholders such as MTN and all other MNOs across Africa. As everyone knows the internet penetration rate is growing quickly and we must not leave anybody on the wayside. That means that we must work to educate, train and facilitate the adoption of the digital channels for our hundreds of thousands of employees, retailers, franchisees and end users across Africa. That’s also a very challenging but interesting project at Editec.

iGaming AFRIKA: Do you think that your emphasis in supporting the community through CSR activities is a driving force behind the growth and client support you are experiencing in the countries you are operating in? 

Alexandre: Definitely yes. I could define ourselves as a community above all; a community made of professionals, players, fans, followers, athletes, influencers & customers all sharing the same values and the same vision for the Gaming, Sports Betting & Lottery industry in Africa. These Values are the cornerstone of our relationships with our clients.

iGaming AFRIKA: Is Premier Bet having plans to launch in more countries in Africa? If so, which are some of these countries and what timelines are we looking at? 

Alexandre: For instance, Editec is launching its activities in Gabon as we speak and is actively working on its development in both existing countries and potential new countries. The Group already works with more than 20 countries in Africa and has the ability to cover the entire continent ultimately. Giving a timeline is not easy but I could say that over the next 3 to 5 years, from my perspective, Editec should be covering the vast majority of the African markets and more importantly be a leading operator in those markets.

iGaming AFRIKA: Being the Operations manager for Editec, the tech company behind Premier Bet. How do you balance between profitability and responsible gaming? 

Alexandre: The key word is sustainability. You cannot operate on the long run if you don’t act responsibly as an operator. We strive to demonstrate sound corporate citizenship and make sure that our business benefits respectfully to our environment, to the communities around us and to the counties where we operate. Premier Projects Alexandre Qader

Key Highlights: 

  • Emphasis on education is crucial and that is why we are building & renovating schools in Cameroon to improve the space and enable our children to access safe, clean and modern classrooms.
  • Premier Bet is already working with more than 20 countries in Africa and is looking forward to covering the entire continent over the next 3 to 5 years.
  • Editec has developed a unique collaboration with Francis Ngannou and his foundation, working hard to reveal African talents’ potential and make sure that they can benefit progressively from the best support possible and reach the stars ideally from the African continent.
  • The Combats Academy & Arena and Francis Ngannou Foundation are open and free to access for anyone from Africa, the only condition as stated by Francis is discipline, work and determination, no matter where you come from. 
  • Premier Projects is working to develop the Premier Loto Gardens to assign plots of land to selected families, teaching them how to grow fruit and vegetables and supporting them with all the necessary to make it happen.
  • Every year, Premier Projects commits to creating or refurbishing an average of 20 sports facilities across the continent, which is the essential action of our strategy. We built 25 facilities covering Basketball, Football, Netball, and MMA.
  • Since 2021, Premier Projects has focused on making a difference in sports by working in over 11 African countries and believes in the power of sports to empower, educate and inspire the young generation.  

Key Quotes

  • I was offered a role in Benin whilst I didn’t know anything about Africa except what we could see on the news.I had the chance to develop a business with 3-digit growth the first year. I fell in love with the country, the continent and the culture. I understood it was the beginning of my new life.
  • To me every country is different and has its peculiarities, I like to remind that to my fellow colleagues or newcomers who try to understand African Markets.
  • The core of our strategy is to have a tangible impact on the lack of sports infrastructure on the continent. We want to ensure that our communities play, have fun, or learn a new sport in safe environments and facilities of good quality.Premier Projects Alexandre Qader

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