Western Cape Premier Helen Zille visited the I-CAN Digital Gaming Hub hosted at the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn on Tuesday (10 July), as part of an official tour of the facility.
The I-Can Hub is an initiative of the Western Cape Government – in partnership with Lenovo and VS Gaming – and is operated by the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CITI).
According to Zille, the project is critical to the province’s ‘Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer’, which is focused on reducing alcohol related harms in target areas including, Khayelitsha Town 2, Gunya and Paarl East.
One of the key focus areas under the game changer is providing recreational and economic alternatives that will encourage our youth to spend more time on non-alcohol related recreational activities, she said.
“For years our government has been determined to provide alternative activities that may be inaccessible for many of our young people. The I-CAN Play project is a crucial initiative under our Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer,” said Zille.
“This project offers an attractive and beneficial activity for young people to participate in, away from the harm and violence caused by alcohol abuse.
She added that the Western Cape government had specifically chosen video games because of the perceived benefits they may provide to young South Africans.
“We have also strategically chosen gaming because of the value it can add to young people and their interest in the ICT sector,” Zille said.
“By making young people curious and comfortable with technology, gaming also opens up a pathway to better digital skills and careers in game development and the traditional IT sector.”
According to an accompanying statement sent out by the Western Cape Provincial Government, the South African video game market is performing ‘well’ and revenue is forecast to grow at a healthy CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 5.6% to reach R3.7 billion in 2020, up from R2.8 billion in 2015.
It added that eSports will soon be a $1 billion business with a global audience of over 300 million fans.