How NFTs Have Empowered Artists in African Art Scenes

A year on, NFTs have opened the door for new artists to earn revenue on marketplaces like Opensea, Foundation, SuperRare, Mintable, Wax, and many others. “Before, artists waited on companies to employ them to produce a particular work,” Osinachi said of the circumstances he and his peers in Nigeria had grown accustomed to. “That has changed now—digital artists are able to make what they want to make and believe someone is willing to buy their works on the blockchain.” Across several African countries’ art scenes, there is already an established digital art community composed of artists, collectors, and enthusiasts—all of whom are propelling the industry’s growth.

In Nigeria, the existing art scene includes a colony of artists that quickly entered the NFT space, led by major players like Anthony Azekwoh, Adewale Mayowa, and Freddie Jacob. There is, however, a major challenge when it comes to earning from NFT sales in Nigeria: The Nigerian government banned cryptocurrency in February 2021, so artists must be careful in the ways they sell their work and engage in transactions, in order to avoid having their bank accounts frozen.

Osinachi is regarded as one of the first digital artists (if not the first) to spark the NFT wave in Nigeria. In 2021, he became the first African NFT artist to be featured at Christie’s in London; and his NFTs have achieved large sums, like Becoming Sochukwuma, which sold for $80,000 on SuperRare. Osinachi has witnessed a surging growth in the Nigerian NFT community, and now several artists have enjoyed significant profits from this work. Azekwoh, for example, sold The Red Man on SuperRare six months ago for 5.5ETH, or $25,419.

Unlike the Nigerian NFT scene, South Africa’s is still finding its footing. However, several artists are leading the way. “The art scene in South Africa is growing; you can feel the unified consciousness of thinking about our stories,” said South African digital artist Terence Ntsako.

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