Africa and The Rise of NFTs

This Digital Cultural Trend Stimulates Economy on the Continent

Article by Psalm Ogbonna Cover Art by B(3)RHunter

NFT’s & Africa

Non-Fungible Token (NFT) appears to be the new direction digital art is taking, and it’s been rewarding as much as it has been revolutionary. Although NFTs are popular with digital art, they have found (and are still finding) applications in areas beyond art such as real estate, collectibles and music. The continuous discovery of new application areas and the reception NFTs have received indicate they are here to stay and are not going away any time soon.

In the past, Africa has been seen as a laggard in the adoption of groundbreaking technology. The continent’s participation in NFTs has not been up to par either. This article looks at:

  • Current adoption of NFTs in Africa

  • Participation of Africans as both creators of NFTs, and as participants in the larger NFT economy

A Brief Definition of NFTs

A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a non-interchangeable, unique digital commodity that has been authenticated by blockchain technology. NFTs solve the problems of ownership of digital contents which are easily copied; it puts a stamp of ownership on such content such that the original is separated from any copies.

NFTs came about with the advent of smart contract technology on the Ethereum blockchain. It was not until 2020 that NFTs gained massive publicity. The “hype” as some call it has continued through this year during which the NFT market has experienced astronomic growth. How much share does Africa have in this market?

Africa’s Share in the NFT market

According to a recent report, the third quarter of 2021 saw a remarkable rise in the trading volume of NFTs to $10.7billion. There is no available data on the volume of NFTs traded in Africa, the continent has not been left out of the huge sales seen in the NFT market.

Nigerian Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwe hailed as Africa’s foremost crypto artist.

The Nigerian Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwe, popularly known as Osinachi, has been described as Africa’s foremost crypto artist. Prince Igwe made news in early 2021 when he sold three NFTs for an equivalent of $75,000 in 10 days

Kenyan marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge

Kenyan marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge auctioned off two videos of his career highlights on Opensea as NFTs for USD 37,351.

South African artist Norman O’Flynn

South African Artist Norman O’Flynn sold his first NFT Da Bomb, in the form of a GIF, for USD 35,000 on Opensea.

In October 2021, Ghanaian visual artist, sculptor, and now digital artist, Tachie-Menson minted her first NFT, Fantastical Argos. This NFT sold in November for 1ETH (about USD 4,140 at the time) on SuperRare.

Other artists came at the heels of Osinachi’s success. The period before Osinachi is often referred to as a waiting period for African artists to embrace NFTs and the creation of digital content. The narrative is changing in Africa as lots of artists are embracing NFTs. These artists see NFTs as a platform that gives them a voice in the very competitive world of art. NFTs are an opportunity to make their mark. NFTs, through their democratization of art, have put erstwhile unknown African artists on the global radar, successfully breaking down some of the barriers that have kept them hidden.

African Artists Creating Digital Content

How much have Africans participated in the creation of digital art content? Have they really bought into the NFT rave? Indeed a lot is going on in Africa in the digital content space. Some of the artists view NFTs as an equalizer and a good way to make money selling their art, something they never really enjoyed in the past.

On the 15th of September, Nigerian Afrobeat musician Don Jazzy, announced a collaboration with Osinachi to create mixed media pieces. These pieces were released on September 29th on Nifty Gateway. The collaboration saw the two combining Afrobeat and art to create 3 pieces of digital art.

Kenya’s Picha Images converted Afro Renaissance images by its co-founder, Rich Allela, into NFTs.

Senegalese-American musician Akon

Senegalese-American music celebrity Akon launched the AkoinNFT platform to assist creative Africans design and distribute their works.

Ken Nwadiogbu and Olayinka Sangotoye, “Chibok Experience” (2021)

Ken Nwadiogbu, in collaboration with six fellow Nigerian artists, created a series known as the Voice NFT Residency that comprise of 9 unique visual pieces that, although they can stand alone, fit together. The series contains a piece, “Chibok experience”, commemorating the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria in ,2014.

A part of the series Timekeeper by Norman O’Flynn. https://www.worldart.co.za/norman-oflynn

On the heels of the success of his first digital art, Da Bomb, South African artist Norman O’Flynn, in partnership with, Charl Bezuidenhout the owner of Worldart, created a digital art piece based on a series of paintings titled Timekeeper, which was initially on canvas.

A part of the series Timekeeper by Norman O’Flynn. https://www.worldart.co.za/norman-oflynn

Beninese-American hollywood star, and model, Djimon Honsou, in partnership with the Nigerian painter laolu, created a digital art series titled “Time to Heal ‘’. The series is being auctioned on the Binance NFT marketplace with the proceeds channelled into Honsou’s foundation to fight human trafficking.

With the divergence of NFTs from solely about art and now into other spheres like music, African creatives are following suit. Henry Coco-Bassey, a rapper and owner of the music label Unique Sirius, sought to bridge the gap between music NFTs from Africa and the rest of the world. Working with Challex the boss, a Nigerian musician he launched the first professional NFT music in Africa, titled “my fans”. Hector, through his music label and the creation of NFT music, is connecting music artists with fans on the metaverse.

Nigerian crypto-artist Niyi Okeowo, whose afro-futurist work combines photography, 3D and graphic design describes NFT as, “…a revolution in the art space…”, noting that Nigeria has about a hundred digital artists all influenced by the success of Osinachi.

Africa’s “foremost crypto-artist” Osinachi believes that Nigeria, with its large, creative, connected, and youthful population has the “potential to lead” in digital art.

The Picture Going Forward

There may not be data on how much Africa is contributing to the market, but so far, from sales data, and the creation of digital arts, it could be said that Africa’s response to the rise of NFTs is positive, and will certainly remain so. For example, in Nigeria despite the state ban on cryptocurrency, Statista, a German company specialized in market and consumer data states that in 2020 more than 400 million USD were exchanged in cryptocurrency, making the most populated black nation in the world, the third-largest user of digital money after the United States and Russia.

Amongst a pool of 60 countries, Statista also indicated that Nigeria Ranked 20th in consumer search interest in the term “NFT” for 2021. Despite the ban on cryptocurrency– the medium for trading NFTs.

Africa is not a mere spectator in the rise of NFTs, it is fully engaged in the NFT revolution.

Conclusion

Africa has not been left behind in the rise of NFTs. Digital artists from the continent have taken part in the creation and sales of NFTs.NFTs have also found application in music and are expanding to other areas. NFT has been adopted by Africa and will experience the same growth witnessed in other parts of the world.


Author Bio

Psalm_Ogbonna is a content writer, a technical writer and a lover of fiction.


BanklessDAO is an education and media engine dedicated to helping individuals achieve financial independence.


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