Data shows that African nations are some of the fastest to adopt cryptocurrency and blockchain technology into everyday life. The use-cases for cryptocurrency, NFTs and blockchain startups throughout the continent are demonstrated by a need for accessible and decentralized banking, payment systems and online services that can help bring African nations into the forefront of technology. CV VC issued its 2021 Africa Blockchain Report which outlined the ways that various industries are being changed by blockchain, particularly throughout Africa. The report outlined new use-cases for the technology and demonstrated how these use-cases are coming into fruition in nations like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa to name a few.
As 3air celebrates the launch of its NFT marketplace, we want to take a look at one specific use case for blockchain that is helping communities of African artists amplify their work on a global stage. 3air’s use of NFTs as a subscription platform for broadband internet access will pave the way for more accessible connectivity in previously hard to reach places. As a platform for artists, NFTs help establish authenticity and ownership in a way that can help African artists draw attention to the vast diversity of culture, traditions and trends that make Africa such a unique and beautiful continent.
Today the blockchain startup landscape throughout Africa is quite robust. In fact, data shows that venture funding for blockchain startups throughout Africa grew more than tenfold in the last twelve months. Experts suggest that the continent could quickly emerge as a powerhouse for cryptocurrency, fueled by the need for decentralized products in emerging economies. Blockchain stands to change the worlds of healthcare, connectivity, finance and supply chain management—which are all key industries throughout Africa that each show a demand for this technology. Today, many call Africa the “crypto continent,” playing off of names given to other popular cryptocurrency hubs around the globe.
Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) are a way of issuing authentication and ownership to a digital object. In the Web2 space, when an artist wants to sell a piece online there is no way to track its authenticity and ownership across the web. An artist could easily have their work stolen and replicated elsewhere, making it hard for artists—especially artists that are digital only—to maintain ownership and credit of their own work. NFTs change that by letting artists tokenize their work and sell it in an online marketplace.
NFTs eliminate issues with plagiarism because the token cannot be replicated. Someone could steal and re-mint a piece of art as their own, but the original transaction on the blockchain will still be there, showing who first minted the work. Just like in the real world, the existence of original pieces of art does not mean that prints, counterfeits, remakes and re-interpretations don’t exist. NFTs don’t eliminate fraudulent work, but they do provide a way for an artist to authenticate and prove that something is theirs. It can also be argued that the counterfeit market only adds value to the original works, but that also requires consumers to understand how NFTs work in the first place—at least enough to understand how counterfeits are possible.
Art is one of the simplest applications for NFTs that exists. Tokenized art allows creators and artists to have more control over the work they sell online, and gives them the opportunity to control how it gets sold on the resale market in the future. NFTs establish intellectual property for digital content, and allow artists to build a long-term community around their biggest supporters.
NFTs have infiltrated some of the most prestigious parts of the art world. From the brand new Sotheby’s NFT marketplace to a heavy presence at the annual Art Basel Miami event, NFTs are, to put it simply, the future of art as we know it. For African artists, this digital ownership means that it’s possible to proliferate the attention that they get in new ways. Where traditional forms of art promotion required management teams and marketing firms to promote work to large audiences, social media and the independence of NFT smart contracts can do that instead—sometimes, even, on a larger scale. In the music industry, for example, NFTs have given artists a platform to self-release their own work and interact with their fans in new ways that were never before possible.
Popular African Artists
African NFT artists have been able to garner more attention on the global stage in recent months thanks to NFTs. Here are some popular African NFT artists:
Petros Teka Hadgu is a photographer and video maker originally from Ethiopia. He has spent the past six years building his production company in Addis Ababa. Petros is a passionate storyteller and hopes to continue to represent his people’s untold stories of Ethiopians and Africans to the world.
Nigerian artist Osinachi has become synonymous with the African NFT scene. The digital artist works out of his Lagos home and had his work exhibited in London by the artist David Hockney. You can read an interview with Osinachi here on the importance of NFTs on the global art community.
Kaysha is a Congolese musician and graphic designer who launched his own NFT collections which are now on OpenSea. The collections highlight African beauty and showcase Kaysha’s own artistic style.
Nigerian artist Niyi Okeowo is one of the world’s more prolific visual artists. With a client roster that includes corporate giants like LVMH, Warner Music Group, Okeowo has built an impressive portfolio as a digital artist and visionary. Okeowo is also a vocal supporter of the potential for NFTs, and has sold his own works on platforms like Rarible in the past.
Zakaria Karkafi is a Moroccan visual artist and graphic designer who has built a reputation in the NFT world for merging surrealism with Moroccan culture.
Kenyan photographer Rich Allela aims to honor the rich culture and heritage of his home nation. Allela’s NFTs on OpenSea bring to life the faces of Kenya in brightly-colored photographs of fluid motion and high energy scenes.
You can visit the 3air NFT marketplace to find original work from African artists. The space hopes to amplify African artists by giving them a platform for their creations.