South Africa’s mobile network operator MTN Group wants to tap into its wide network of 34.5 million subscribers in Africa to lead the way in popularizing the metaverse in the continent. Present in 17 countries in Africa, the company has announced a new metaverse platform -altMTN – and a virtual music concert in November to help unlock the potential of immersive experiences.
It is now partnering with The Mic: Africa, an African music, arts, and culture networking platform, to host the continent’s first metaverse music concert.
Group marketing executive Bernice Samuels says MTN’s metaverse will help the company “support African innovation, and will, over time feature live events, shopping, gaming, and learning.”
Samuel adds, “We will be running a competition with our customers, giving them a chance to win exclusive tickets to the concert. We believe that by tapping into a key passion on the continent, namely music, we can actively draw our customers into the environment to not only experience it first-hand, but also to help us to improve altMTN.”
Metaverse potential in Africa
In February this year, MTN bought 144 plots of virtual land in Ubuntuland, a 3D virtual reality immersive hub owned by South African tech firm Mann Made, for an undisclosed amount.
Among African artistes, the metaverse wave appears to be changing how they present their art with the formation of online forums and communities such as the Africa NFT Community, Black NFT Art, Kenyan NFT Club, and Nigeria NFT Community to network on how best to reap from immersive tech.
Anna Ogutogullari, founder of QkweQkwe.io, a virtual marketplace where African artists can buy and sell digital art in the form of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) globally told Further Africa that the total value of African artists in the NFT market is worth $15 billion. She says “At the moment, there are few African layers in the world of digital art, so by encouraging and giving African artists a chance to showcase their talent, we will bring about the change that we want to see in the future African art market. Where Africans support Africans.”
In August, Nigerian music star BNXN (formerly called Buju), hosted a metaverse listening party of his playlist, Bad Since 97, allowing global fans to tune in. In January, BNXN created the HeadsByBuju NFT project to reward his fans, with owners of the NFTs using them to access to his physical and virtual concerts. But no other notable African musician is keen on this space.
Derya Matras, Meta’s vice president for Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey recently told African Business, “We know there is huge talent here on the continent, and nowhere is it more exciting to witness than in the creative and tech space. I believe the metaverse has a big role to play here.”
It’s a rocky path for the metaverse in Africa
However, despite Meta estimating that the metaverse could contribute $40 billion to sub-Saharan Africa by 2032, on many fronts, the continent is not prepared for a future where, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “immersive digital worlds become the primary way that we live our lives and spend our time.”
Meta is leading a two-year $50 million metaverse training in 16 African countries to grow talent in virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, but high costs of VR headsets, low internet penetration, slow internet speeds, and high costs of data and smartphones on the continent stand in its way to ignite desire for the African metaverse.