NFT adoption in Africa: what is the current reality?

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Africa, the second largest continent in the world with a population of over 1.6 billion, is still evolving when it comes to technology adoption. In most cases, people in Western countries learn about technological advances faster than people in Africa.

However, cryptocurrency is no stranger to Africa. Since bitcoin has been in the limelight, many of the younger African generations have turned to cryptocurrency as an alternative source of income. While many still struggle to understand the technology it runs on, the fact that it offers a way to make a quick profit has made it widely popular.

On this same trend, NFTs have gained wide acceptance, particularly in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. Despite this, the adoption of NFT in Africa is still fraught with many issues that impact the adoption rate and usability within the continent.

The rise of NFTs in Africa

The rise of NFTs in Africa can be linked to the rapid rate at which Africans have adopted cryptocurrencies. In a 2021 reportChainanalysis estimates that cryptocurrency adoption in Africa increased by 1200% between July 2020 and June 2021, making it the fastest adoption rate in the world.

Coincidentally, this was at the same time that NFTs were gaining mainstream attention. In December, digital artist Mike Winkelmann had achieved record-breaking NFT sales, whose enthusiasm successfully drew more attention to crypto art. The fact that one person could make up to $69 million selling digital art drew attention around the world, especially in Africa.

However, Africans did not immediately turn to digital art as was the case on other continents. That was because many still didn’t get it underlying technology behind NFTs or how they might benefit from it. So when cryptocurrency activity continued massively, NFTs were still lagging behind. However, the continent caught up to prominent NFT collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and saw price spikes within a short space of time.

For a young population without sufficient employment opportunities or means of making money, the popularity of NFTs grew rapidly, but many who dived into space did so for speculative reasons. They acted with the belief that they could make more money than they bought the NFT in the next month or a short period of time.

Today, Africans are delving deeper into NFTs and doing so for reasons other than just profit. As blockchain technology permeated Africa more and more, it became clear to many that you don’t have to be tech savvy to be able to Benefit from the decentralized economy.

Likewise, people realized that minting NFTs wasn’t as complicated as they had thought. So if a new one opinion poll With Finder ranking Nigeria as the 6th and South Africa as the 12th largest adopter of NFTs globally, it wasn’t hard to see why the countries ranked so high.

In April 2022, a group of Ghanaian pallbearers clinched their fame that went viral as a meme on the internet in 2020. The leader of the group, Benjamin Aidoo, sold the viral coffin dance as an NFT for 372 ETH ($1.046 million at the time). The NFT sale is still the most expensive from Africa to date.

Days earlier on April 1, in neighboring Nigeria, Adisa Olashile, a phone photographer who mints and sells his work as NFTs, had posted pictures of an old drummer he had taken on Twitter. He said He planned to mint and sell the images as NFTs and give the old drummer 50% of the money.

Soon after, the photographer revealed that he had sold the images on OpenSea, each for 0.3 ETH, which is over a million naira. He followed that shared videos by him give the man 50% of the money, which the old drummer received with surprise and awe. As expected, the friendly gesture caused a stir on social media.

While many credited the photographer for his selflessness, some wanted to know how they could hop on the NFT bandwagon. Since then, NFT conversations have grown astronomically in the Nigerian social media spaces as many seek to capitalize on the space.

African digital artists

Since the rise of NFTs, a wave of digital artists has swelled across the continent, many hoping to offer their art for sale to the rest of the world. While digital artists have long existed in Africa, the use of NFTs as a medium is still a relatively new and growing area.

For the most part, only artists who are tech-savvy and understand how to shape their work could benefit. As a result, only a few artists are delving into crypto art to derive value for their works, while the rest still rely on traditional art galleries for sales.

In 2021, one of the leading digital artists in Africa, Osinachi Igweattracted media attention after he sold $75,000 worth of NFTs in just 10 days. Before accomplishing this feat, the Nigerian visual and digital artist coined his works in NFTs back in 2017 after traditional galleries refused to accept his works due to their nature. Instead of traditional artistry, Osinachi uses Microsoft Word to design his art.

Osinachi’s track record adds to a growing list of African artists who have found success in NFTs. There are now several digital artist communities for African digital artists across Africa. Citable examples are African NFT Community, Black NFT Art, Network of African NFT Artists, Afro Future DAO, Kenyan NFT Club and Nigeria NFT Community. These communities help raise awareness of digital art, encourage collaborations, share resources, and host events.

Despite the revolutionary nature of NFTs and how it makes the world a borderless one, African digital artists still face certain problems. First, there is still a market problem. While there are several digital artists in the space, there aren’t enough African NFT collectors. It is largely non-existent. This is made worse by the fact that African NFT artists receive little patronage compared to artists from other countries. This leaves African artists with the only choice to offer their art in the hope that an international collector will buy their creations.

Associated with the market problem is also an economic challenge. Exorbitant gas fees are often charged for minting on most NFT marketplaces. This is a challenge given the widespread financial problems in most African countries and the large mismatch between local currencies and the dollar. As such, this discourages many aspiring artists from becoming interested in NFTs.

regulations in space

As in several other countries, African countries have not kindly turned to the use of cryptocurrencies within their jurisdictions. Those who have not restricted trading activities have warned their citizens against investing in crypto. Until now, Crypto trading is prohibited in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, while countries like Nigeria, Cameroon, and Gabon have some forms of crypto trading bans.

Because NFTs are traded using native currencies of the blockchain they are hosted on, the restrictions have made it difficult for NFT enthusiasts in countries where there are restrictions or prohibitions to trade easily. In Nigeria, for example, it is financial institutions restricted from conducting crypto-related transactions and are required to close accounts held on this basis. This effectively pushed the users to use peer 2 peer platforms to carry out their trading activities.

The future of NFTs in Africa

Despite government restrictions that have impacted NFT use and trade in Africa, NFTs continue to flourish on the continent. Aside from providing African artists with a platform to offer their art for sale, it has also served as a livelihood for thousands across the continent.

But NFTs could do more for the continent than just create opportunities for the continent. In a part of the world where property ownership is still manually validated, using NFTs could go a long way towards ensuring transparency and authenticating ownership. NFTs are inherently unique and traceable. Thus, not only is ownership status preserved, but a curious person hoping to find an owner will quickly locate the person.

The projects from Africa also show that the introduction of NFT will gain in importance in the coming years. Projects like NFTfi, Ubuntuland and AJE: The Afriverse are pacesetters when it comes to NFT deployment in Africa. Over time, more projects will emerge with the prospect of revolutionizing Africa and its people.

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*All investment/financial opinions expressed by NFT Plazas are derived from the personal research and experience of our site moderators and are intended for educational purposes only. Individuals must fully research each product before making any type of investment.

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