Artists around the globe are exploring the advent of NFTs to monetize their skills, talents, and culture in global marketplaces. We are not late to the table, we are creating the space for us.
In 2021 alone, over 28 million wallets traded NFTs, with a turnover of about $25 billion, and in 2020, about half a million wallets accumulated $94 million. Undoubtedly, NFTs grew exponentially in 2021 despite speculations and little knowledge of blockchain technology and the fact that in some cases, the objects/art doesn’t exist in physical form.
Technology is enabling artistic expression on a scale like never before and generating equitable ways for artists and collectors to create and interact with art. Blockchain’s capacity to guarantee indelible records, track, verify and transfer ownership in the absence of a broker in real-time and at an affordable cost is powering the creative world and enlarging the boundaries of possibilities. Additionally, social networking channels like Twitter, Discord, Reddit, and Telegram, are enabling communities of artists, collectors, and enthusiasts to share ideas, successes, challenges, and co-create.
Growing African Involvement
Blockchain technology is readily accessible with internet connection and could add $1.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, with the highest potential net benefit in China (US$440bn) and the USA (US$407bn). While this poses a risk to communities with limited access to the internet, it is a rare playing field for Africans and black communities worldwide to leverage NFTs to create black prosperity and celebrate and protect black cultural heritage. The African Digital Art (ADA) community comprises black collectors, enthusiasts, and creators worldwide who showcase their culture, skills, and talents in digital art, videography, illustration, animation, typography, etc., and optimize NFTs to create value.
In 2021, several digital artists of African descent made their mark and had their works minted on several platforms like Opensea, Foundation, Super Rare, Mintable, Wax, and many others. African digital artists also built communities like Africa NFT Community, Black NFT Art, Network of African NFT Artists, Afro Future DAO, Kenyan NFT Club, and Nigeria NFT Community. These communities served as a platform to promote collaborations and share ideas, resources, and challenges, as well as online and hybrid events, focused on branding, storytelling, art promotion, and helping up-and-coming artists to scale. At ADA, we believe strongly in the power of a community to support, promote, and co-create ingenious masterpieces. We are proud of the active community of black creators, supporters, and enthusiasts at ADA and are looking forward to dropping NFTs from our community this year.
Some Notable Achievements
NFTs create opportunities for prosperity across all demographics, making it a genuinely equitable means to build wealth among previously disenfranchised groups. NFTs have created successes on a large scale for African artists, who now have a global marketplace for their ingenious creations. These opportunities haven’t been possible in the traditional art market, where African art sales account for only 1% of the $50 billion global art market.
In the first quarter of 2021, Nigerian artist Prince Osinachi sold an NFT art for $75,000 in 10 days before selling a piece called Becoming Sochukwuma, a portrait depicting a black dancer enveloped in a Tutu for $80,000. In October, he became the first African NFT artist to be featured at Christie’s global auction house in London, making headlines.
Rich Allela, a Kenyan-based award-winning filmmaker and photographer, auctioned the continent’s first Art Collection Powered by NFTs. The auction ran for almost three weeks on OpenSea.
Nineteen-year-old Zimbabwean artist YKHulio sold his painting of Hip Hop star Drake, his dad, and son eating pasta from one of his awards plaques for almost $10,000. Interestingly, the buyer listed it on a secondary market for 185 ETH, around $577,000.
In Nigeria, where NFTs are becoming mainstream for many artists, the sixth edition of ART X Lagos, the exclusive contemporary art fair, had a maiden section devoted to NFTs created by African artists in November 2021. It was displayed as a sequence of digital paintings and dubbed ‘Reloading.’ It had artworks obtainable through an NFT auction run in collaboration with Super Rare.
Gas Fees Roadblock
Despite the growing involvement of African art in the crypto-assets market, African creators consistently face bottlenecks. Currently, the most challenging issue is the exorbitant gas fees required for minting on most NFT marketplaces. Though this cost is a threat to innovation everywhere, it hinders many African artists, particularly up-and-coming ones, from participating. ADA is working to tackle these roadblocks to create a platform unencumbered by these limiting factors
Osinachi, in an interview with Business Insider Africa at the recent Art X Lagos, noted:
“I can afford to pay a gas fee of say $200. But new artists entering the space can’t afford to do that. They haven’t set a workflow as much as $100 yet, so they can’t afford to pay such huge gas fees, but in time Ethereum’s network upgrades will provide higher speeds and lower gas fees, and art fairs like Art X will play their part.”
Protecting Black Heritage Through NFTs
In Africa, weak intellectual property laws have robbed many black artists of the tangible gains from their work. They continue to create and get little to nothing for their works while others exploit them and use their creation without due compensation. Additionally, African cultures are slowly slipping away due to a lack of solid documentation. Blockchain through NFTs presents the African community with the distinctive possibility to secure, protect, and promote African artifacts and art. With NFTs, the black community can secure African and black heritage, preserve copyrights to black art, and create opportunities for African communities to earn royalties in perpetuity.
As Africa’s largest creator community and the leading cultural marketplace for digital goods, including collectibles, physical art certifications to gaming items, and digital art backed by the Blockchain, the goal is to ensure a seamless digital platform.
The African Digital Art (ADA) is building a brand new economy from the ground up based on digital ownership. The Nandi marketplace has no charges for creators on the platform; we cover costly gas fees required for minting NFTs and allow anyone to buy and sell artistic impressions. ADA manages the minting of digital items & digitizing certificates of authenticity for physical objects, including fine art, sports memorabilia, live event tickets, and limited edition drops from music to fashion brands.
In 2022, ADA will have several outreach events to bring more black digital artists into the NFT world while empowering them to earn sustainable benefits from their work. Join us in our quests to secure, protect, and promote African heritage and culture.