Nigerian digital artists shine with NFTs

While cryptocurrencies are fungible, meaning they can be substituted and exchanged for the same unit of value – like exchanging one ethereum for another – NFTs cannot be mutually exchanged, and there is no not two identical NFTs, giving them a rarity value.

“It’s a huge market,” said Uyi Amokaro, co-founder of WeAreMasters, a digital marketplace specializing in African collectibles and NFTs. the virtual world or in the virtual economy which can be linked to the blockchain and can be bought and sold.”

Amokaro added that artists can now do more than just show their art in a gallery.

“We are moving away from traditional artwork,” he said. “Anyone can now be an artist and you don’t have to wait for a gallery to come pick you up and see you as valuable.”

Like cryptocurrencies, NFT sales are subject to rapid and unpredictable changes and some analysts believe we are in an NFT bubble. But despite potential downturns, some Nigerian NFT artists are thriving in the expanding digital art market.

Nigerian NFT artists are on the rise

Osinachi is one of Nigeria’s most bankable digital artists. A former librarian, Osinachi says he can commission up to five figures for his NFT works. “The excitement for me was that I could put my work in a place where a lot of people would see it outside of Instagram,” he said.
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“I went in and explored the markets and it wasn’t until 2019 that the markets picked up and we saw the boom,” he added. “The pandemic helped because collectors couldn’t get to physical galleries, so a lot of them discovered the NFT space. And then (from) 2020 to 2021, Christie’s auction took place and everyone was screaming at NFTs.”

However, experts say the lack of internet penetration remains a formidable barrier for many African artists looking to enter the NFT space.

“I think African artists are quickly embracing the NFT space and getting on board, but let’s also not forget that the continent has a number of people who are still not in the data economy,” says Ferdy ‘Ladi Adimefe , the founder and CEO. from Magic Carpet Studios, one of the companies helping African artists to jump on the trend.

“We are trying to create workshops and platforms where we can help traditional artists to start acquiring the digital tools through which they can now digitize and monetize their art,” Adimefe said.

Kenyan artist Rich Allela said fees on NFT trading platforms and lack of technical know-how are other barriers to entry. “The platform itself is not that easy to understand, so you need guidance from someone who has the experience,” he added.

Government restrictions

While NFT sales are mostly conducted through cryptocurrencies, in countries like Nigeria, high transaction volume has faced official rules and restrictions. In February, for example, Nigeria banned banks and financial institutions from facilitating cryptocurrency payments.

“Nigerian regulations have not been very supportive of the crypto space,” Adimefe said.

Despite varied challenges, many in the sector believe that NFTs are becoming a way of life for artists.

“You can’t talk about art now without mentioning NFTs,” Osinachi said. “It will be part of the art scene as we know it.”

Marilyn M. Davis