A digital revolution is happening in Africa. Blockchain technology is an emerging trend gaining traction on the continent.
According to Chainalysis, crypto usage in Africa surged 1200% towards the end of 2021. This steady growth is happening despite government bans and restrictions in several African countries. One of the trends that have garnered the attention of many Africans is NFTs.
The desire to mint, create, sell and purchase digital artworks is at an all-time-high. A survey by Finder ranks Nigeria(the largest crypto market in Africa) as the 6th largest adopter of NFTs in the world and South Africa as 12th. The survey also hints that NFT adoption will more than double in these countries due to the high interest among respondents.
NFTs are unique cryptographic assets that exist on blockchain technology.
NFTs are non-fungible – they are not mutually interchangeable. The appeal of NFTs lies in their digital representation of physical assets like pictures, videos, gifs, artworks and even tweets!
NFTs have garnered a load of attention and become mainstream in the arts and entertainment industries. In the real sense, Africans can do more with NFTs than flipping digital arts for quick profits. In this article, we examine the real-life use cases of NFTs and how they can contribute to Africa’s socio-economic development.
Use cases of NFTs
The real-estate industry is an important sector where NFTs could be utilized. Connecting an NFT with a physical property allows straightforward usage and easy collateral. A European start-up – Propy, is already exploring this idea. Propy offers a transaction platform with which each NFT comes with access to ownership transferred paperwork. The first Propy-hosted NFT auction sold an apartment for 202.5 ethereum, or $651,229.88.
Coming to Africa, property tech is still to a large extent, unexplored. Two of the biggest problems in Africa’s real estate market today are property valuation and the verification of ownership. Nevertheless, timestamped NFTs could be used to transfer land deeds, provide proof of ownership and keep track of changes in property value over time.
Revenue & Royalties
A large percentage of the world’s supply chains start in Africa (ie cocoa, coffee, cobalt, diamonds, oil, etc). However, original value creators or laborers(Africans) who are the source of the lucrative opportunities don’t pocket from them.
NFTs can alter this trajectory by giving the producers the chance to capitalize on their own value and generate new revenue streams and royalties. If the manufacturers can convert their products into digital assets, they would receive most of the money from the primary sale. A small percentage would likely go to the marketplace that hosts the NFT sale.
Because the NFT lives on the blockchain and traces the asset back to the original owner, they would always get royalties/percentage of resale revenue. This direct relationship with original asset owners and investors removes middle men and allows Africans to increase income.
Panacea to Unemployment
Africa has the highest population of youths in the world but rampant unemployment is a stigma that has been sticking amongst the youth populace for decades. NFTs as a platform provide wealth and create opportunities for young people that can create content and build global networks of admirers and investors committed to their success.
An NFT is fundamentally a financial instrument. It represents a micro economy centered around a valuable asset/creator. The asset can be leveraged – used for something else in financial transactions. African artists that have made a fortune from NFTs are Lethabo, Osinachi, Micah Johnson just to mention a few. That niche is not fully exploited yet, Africa still needs more young people to lead the crypto revolution.
It is a well-known fact that corruption is a widely-spread disease in Africa. Rigged elections and electoral violence have become a notorious trend too. To put it into perspective, Nigeria’s 2019 General Elections claimed 626 lives, according to a Premium Times report. There is also a track record of several irregularities, like underage voting, ballots without names of some candidates, errors in voter registration, and inadequate polling stations. In view of this, it is highly important to have a system that can make elections credible and stop the violence.
Seasoned technology experts have proposed blockchain technology as a viable route to credible elections. NFTs could help prevent all forms of irregularities from happening since they would provide a unique digital identity for each person on the blockchain, thereby reducing the risk of voter fraud and ensuring the use of blockchain technology.
Telemedicine is the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance. Telemedicine has multiple applications and can be used for different services, which includes wireless tools, email, two-way video, smartphones, and other methods of telecommunications technology.
In Africa, one of the problems in the medical field is the absence of a public register to authenticate medical personnel. NFTs can provide a solution to that by giving medical personnel unique digital identities that the public can see. Moreover, NFTs generally make it easier to apply blockchain technology to medicine – hospitals can issue birth certificates as NFTs to ensure every record is accurate and secure from malicious attempts at manipulation.