The NFT market is most at home in the US, but the global scene is growing more and more. One part of the world experiencing a rise in all things crypto is the continent of Africa.
African digital art is amongst the most varied and vibrant in the world, and up-and-coming creatives and taking NFTs in their stride. With the interest, hype, and talent jumping on board across many parts of Africa, the potential for booming blockchain culture to flourish is ripe, but some things are holding it back.
The Digital Art Scene in Africa Today
Over the last year, West Africa has gone from strength to strength in the digital art world. Last November, SuperRare partnered with Art X Lagos to host Reloading- an all-African NFT exhibition featuring artists from Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria, and more.
The African Digital Art Network also launched its own NFT marketplace, Nandi, shortly after NFT workshops in Lagos encouraged a rise in new digital creativity. Finding a way to grow the blossoming industry and let artists get paid is the prime focus for the time being.
Africa’s Crypto Community
Africa’s cryptocurrency market grew by a mind-blowing 1200% from 2020 to 2021, with $105 billion worth of movement. South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya are amongst the top 10 countries in the world for crypto use. There is no denying that Africa is ready to be a leading power in the crypto world- but the road ahead is not clear.
Obstacles Blocking an African NFT Takeover
Crypto Bans in Many Countries
Sadly, many African countries have cryptocurrency bans, limiting the flexibility to use any digital money. Nigeria (one of Africa’s most prominent digital art hubs) joined that list at the beginning of 2021.
The decision by the Nigerian government to ban the use of crypto in banks and financial institutions put a halt to new investments and severely hindered the evolving digital ecosystem. People stopped buying digital assets and emptied their e-wallets, making it harder for NFT artists to gain the attention they needed.
Luckily, Nigeria has started to ease the restrictions starting this month, which could ease the path for further development in the nation, but more than a dozen other African countries remain cuffed, including Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco.
On the other side of the financial fence, weak economies and low living wages can block potential artists or investors from getting involved. Because it can cost more than $60 to get set up with an e-wallet and marketplace account (not including the gas fee for minting an NFT, which can range from a couple of dollars to more than 100), some African nations are prohibited on cost alone.
Minimum wages in Kenya, for example, are as low as $100 per month. Despite being one of Africa’s top nations for crypto use, the move to the international NFT scene could be tricky.
Lack of an International Stage
Speaking of the international scene, the lack of global attention on the incredibly talented digital artist of Africa could also be holding things back. The majority of investors in African-made NFTs and from Africa themselves, creating a limited bubble.
Internal communities are extremely supportive of one another, helping elevate and promote each other’s art within the digital collecting scene. However, more stable market infrastructure is needed to push this art out on an international level.
Bringing in external interest and investors could see the spread of a new genre of NFT artwork. Perhaps some intervention from representatives from the well-established US scene could make a difference in building a foundation for things to grow from and excel.
Plans to Push for a More Global Stage
Nigeria’s digital art scene is currently leading the charge toward advancing African NFTs. Charles Mbata and Chuma Anagbado- two prominent figures in the Lagos art community- are working to bring together artists, promoters, investors, and influential public figures through various projects aimed at attracting a more global audience.
The idea is to build a more established and official base for the African NFT community so that it becomes more accessible from overseas.
One of the beautiful things about crypto culture is how borderless and boundary-free it aims to be. With how the world works, obstacles will always appear, but with the right minds moving together in the right direction: anything is possible.
Get ready, NFT collectors of the world: African digital art is ready to make a splash.