South Africa may be one of the most developed countries in Africa, but according to a recent online survey studying NFT adoption in Africa, it’s lagging behind in embracing a potentially powerful economic ally.
This survey polled more than 28,000 people from 20 countries, and shared that only 8.3% of South African internet users own NFTs. According to the same survey, Nigeria’s forecast adoption (% who already have NFTs plus the % planning to buy some) was set to be 35.4%, while South Africa’s forecast was only half that, at 17.7%....
Given that SA’s smartphone penetration surpassed 90% in 2019, we can comfortably assume that the majority of the population have at least some access to the internet. So, what’s holding the rainbow nation back (and possibly the rest of Africa too)?
If it’s not due to potential access, then we’re willing to bet it’s a combination of a lack of awareness (like, “What even is an NFT?!”) and straight-up misinformation (“Isn’t the NFT economy just hype anyway?”).
It’s obviously a complex issue, as we’re blessed with a multicultural and multilingual society unlike any other (not to mention the spectre of a dark dark past). But while acknowledging that, we’d like to take the best step we can towards a sustainable future, together. So….
Here’s why we think NFTs in Africa are the best thing since sliced bread, and why we’re putting our whole heart behind driving their adoption across South Africa and the continent, and making sure that everyone who wants to can access the technology, and its economy, to their benefit.
Why NFTs Can Help in Developing Countries
Because of the way they work (which you can learn about here), NFTs have certain characteristics that make them perfect tools for change in developing countries and emerging economies. These include:
- It’s accessible via smartphone. You don’t need expensive equipment to mint, trade or collect NFTs. All you need is a smartphone — something that many people already have, and can more easily source than a computer.
- It’s affordable to start up. You don’t need to be a trust-fund baby to tap into NFT technology. Starting up with NFTs has a low cost of entry, and your success needn’t rely on high-value trades. For example, while many people fear the blockchain transaction (“gas”) fees involved can be crippling, here’s how to mint your NFTs without gas fees.
- You use user-friendly platforms. dApps like Momint are making it incredibly easy for people without any computer science training to execute transactions on the blockchain. Now, even your great aunt Ada can mint, collect or trade NFTs at the click of a button, on an app that looks like Instagram’s gothic cousin.
- It enfranchises individuals who don’t own a bank account. Many people in developing countries are locked out of traditional banking, for various reasons. Because NFTs and blockchain technology can bypass traditional, centralised and fiat-based institutions (like banks, or lending institutions), it’s possible for the unbanked to create a livelihood through this parallel economy.
- It can offer better pay than what’s otherwise available. NFTs are becoming a major source of income in developing nations, and can offer people who usually earn low minimum wage rates a globally-competitive income. For example, one Colombian NFT trader turned a profit that was 17x that of the nation's annual minimum wage.
Related: Got questions? We’re here for you. Think we’ve missed something? Have your say! Join us on Discord!
What’s Holding NFTs Back in Africa?
Right, we’re obviously not all-knowing, but we do have some guesses about what could be holding back the growth of NFTs in Africa. Here is our pick for the top three contributing factors:
- NFTs have become synonymous with digital art. While few people know about NFTs, even fewer know that they can be used for more than tracking the origin of art. While this is a lifeline for NFT-artists like Osinachi, Youssef El Idrissi and many creators otherwise crippled by the pandemic, there are plenty of small business owners across multiple industries who could use NFTs to grow their business. Embracing these expanded use cases will be a crucial part of Africa’s future economic development.
- They appear to be expensive. There’s an overwhelming perception that NFTs are something only rich people do, or famous artists make. Nothing could be further from the truth! NFTs are for everyone — it’s just that those high value sales tend to make the headlines, while the daily happenings of the NFT economy are a lot less newsworthy. In fact, over 50% of NFT sales are for less than $200. So, while trading in the NFT economy may not make many people easy money (or millions), it can help millions of diligent people earn a living wage they’d not otherwise be able to.
- Lack of government support. Very few governments are actively behind blockchain technology, and some are downright hostile — with cryptocurrency drawing much of the fire. While most are, thankfully, open-minded, governments will have to be straight-up blockchain-friendly if they’re to ensure the people whose welfare they’re responsible for benefit as much as possible from it. While we can’t say what the future holds with any certainty, we predict world governments will take stronger positions on crypto and blockchain over the next 5 years. Here’s hoping for the best!
The Future Has No Limit…
At Momint, we believe that blockchain technology and NFTs have the power to move Africa forward, sustainably.
The growth of NFTs in South Africa, and the continent, is being held back by a combination of both misinformation and a lack of education. So, we’d like to do everything we can to combat that with one blog post, video and Discord chat at a time.