Members of ALA and LONACI gather for a group photo after the WLA/ALA joint seminar on innovation and sustainable development.

Innovation and sustainability are on the minds of lottery operators and their suppliers worldwide. In a rapidly changing context, where technology-based disruption takes place almost daily, it behooves lotteries to stay ahead of the game, develop new ways to stay relevant and interesting to players, and, of course, to do so sustainably. This is especially true in Africa, where lotteries’ development and growth is often closely linked to societal and economic development for these emerging markets.

This year, the National Lottery of Côte d’Ivoire, LONACI, celebrates its fiftieth anniversary and, to coincide with these celebrations, the lottery, in conjunction with ALA and WLA, hosted a seminar to focus on developing the African Lottery Association’s 2020 action plan for sustainable development. The theme of the seminar, held at the General Confederation of Enterprises of Côte d'Ivoire in Abidjan on March 4 and 5, was “Innovation and Sustainable Development”. Topics under discussion included the development of the ALA’s 2020 Action Plan.

Dramane Coulibaly, Director General of LONACI, said: “This high-level meeting takes place in an important context for us, being LONACI’s fiftieth anniversary,” during the opening of the seminar. “The digitalization of games and payments, diversification of product portfolios, and reinforcement of governance through modern management and planning tools are among the topics that we will focus on.”

He went on to add that LONACI and its co-hosts would share their expertise and experience in various social responsibility matters during the two-day seminar. This social mission, as he termed it, included responsible gaming, social responsibility, and environmental preservation.

According to ALA, lotteries worldwide are experiencing rapid changes, especially in the behavior of consumers, due to disruptive business models and technological innovation. Creating a framework for responsible and collaborative innovation allows ALA members to expand their activities, offer new value-added products, and establish sustainable development principles. To ensure a sustainable future, lotteries must remain attentive to consumers, be at the forefront of trends in human behavior and technology, and be able to adapt quickly and effectively.

During the seminar ALA members pledged to support UN Sustainable Development Goals on environmental issues, through the creation of an environmental charter. After the seminar, attendees took part in a tree-planting ceremony at the National Agricultural Research Center in Bingerville, Ivory Coast, where EUR 3,000 donation was made in support of environmental sustainability.

Malick M'Baye, Special Advisor to the Director General of the Senegalese National Lottery (LONASE), said that the themes chosen were of paramount importance for a gaming industry that is experiencing major changes on a global scale. “In recent years, our profession has been increasingly confronted with problems of addiction and underage gambling" he said. “To sustain our industry, we must take bold measures against phenomena which could compromise the stability of our industry", concluded M'Baye.

Younes El Mechrafi, Secretary General of the ALA and representing the President of the WLA, Rebecca Hargrove, welcomed the proactive approach this seminar took. He mentioned that the questions raised will help African lotteries offer their existing customers and young people alike new options that will help the industry grow.

Panel discussions included, among others, promoting the industry through social responsibility, and innovative and impactful start-ups. A panel was held around the promotion of women in leadership positions in African lotteries, with a specific focus on the Women in Lottery Leadership initiative, founded by WLA President, Rebecca Hargrove. In addition, attendees discussed the roles and responsibilities of lotteries to the communities in which they operate, and the good causes, including sport, education, culture and health, they support.

Following the panel discussions, ALA members pledged to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals on environmental issues, through the creation of an environmental charter. With this charter, the ALA is adopting a voluntary eco-responsible approach, with the aim of reducing lotteries’ environmental impact, raising awareness among members, and finding simple but effective means to respect the environment. The five primary goals of this charter are:

  1. Limiting the carbon footprint of transporting participants to ALA events.
  2. Focusing on using reusable and recyclable products.
  3. Reducing, sorting, and valuing waste.
  4. Offering sustainable restoration.
  5. Setting up eco-responsible communication and raising awareness of the principles of sustainable development.

Outside of the seminar itself, attendees took part in a tree-planting at the National Agricultural Research Center in Bingerville, handing over a check for EUR 3,000 at the same time. This planting was held to offset the carbon impact of the seminar’s travellers.

LONACI's fiftieth anniversary celebration festivities were launched on February 6, 2020, by Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, around the theme: "Meeting the challenges of innovation and social responsibility together".

About ALA

The African gaming industry is represented by the African Lotteries Association (ALA), founded in 1983 in Dakar, Senegal, with the objectives of encouraging mutual technical and educational assistance; participating in the integration of the African economy by instituting pan-African games; and participating in the socioeconomic advancement of various priority sectors.

Since the election of Mr. Younes El Mechrafi as ALA Secretary General in 2014, the organization has been promoting cooperation between members through exchange platforms, information, and support. This includes four committees aimed at helping members achieve certification, operate according to international standards, and follow best practice.

ALA supports members in achieving their vision in accordance with the highest standards of corporate responsibility, including the WLA Responsible Gaming Principles. Several ALA members have signed partnership agreements, creating a framework for sharing international and regional knowledge, experiences, and expertise. These exchanges at continental level are also available to be shared internationally. The ALA plays a vital role in helping members share their experiences with other lotteries and sister associations.