How Pokémon GO Can Improve Lives in Nigeria

The worldwide popular mobile application is allowing people to address social issues with more strength

August 10th, 2016
Giorgio Malvermi, CD News

Pokémon GO, despite still not been officially released on Android Market and Apple Store in the Nigerian state of Lagos, has already become a national hit with tenths of thousands of online downloads. The enhanced reality app, other than entertaining its users, is indirectly raising awareness on social issues in the country, such as safety, traffic and Internet coverage on national level, and it could very well be one of the main driver for lives improvement in the country.

The Pokémon franchise, born in 1996 by an idea Satoshi Tajiri, is probably one of the most profitable in human history, with more than 46.2 billion $ in 20 years of activity. It’s not only a brand icon for the Japanese gaming industry, but for Japan as a country.

The main concept behind Pokémon reflects one of the main aspects of Japanese culture: the passion for collecting. Much similarly to insects collecting, Pokémon allows players to catch and collect hundreds of different creatures. With the planetarium success of Pokémon, this niche side of Japanese culture had spread like wildfire.

The mobile online application Pokémon GO, officially released by Niantic and Nintendo on July 6th in Australia, New Zealand and USA, had been downloaded by more than 10 million people only in the first week. After one month, it has been downloaded by more than 100 million users worldwide, becoming one the most successful applications ever.

The game is so popular that even in Lagos, the most densely populated state in Nigeria, has found a huge market. Hundreds of thousands of players have already downloaded it, notwithstanding the fact that most Lagosians have very poor coverage, abysmal traffic conditions and are plagued by internal security issues.

With players’ complaints about this problems becoming bigger and bigger, Pokémon GO could become a voice for its players to improve actual living conditions. There are evidences pointing toward this direction. For example, According to Bloomberg News, internet providers have committed to 3G coverage in 90 per cent of the country and are starting a fibre network roll-out in six cities.

If all complaints were to be managed to quickly, possibilities would be limitless: urban districts renovated to allow more players to explore them; enhanced security in dangerous areas; more stringent control on traffic. Talking about indirect effects, with its popularity Pokémon could be the first video game in history to actually improve lives in Nigeria.


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