Into the Web2 universe

Crypto-Themed Disruption Webs Africa Into Web 3.0 Wonderment

By  |  February 21, 2022

Deemed to be the latest buzzword in the Silicon Valley tech sanctuary, Web3 is often addressed as the idea to iterate the internet for a third time, in an attempt to decentralize the virtual system. Web3, in a manner of aim, will do to the internet what Bitcoin and crypto did to hard currencies. 

The concept made quite the entrance in 2020 and 2021 [alongside NFTs (non-fungible tokens)] and spent the better half of the latter year proving its case in the new internet era. Early into 2022, it has not only remained a global catchphrase but also has come to be referred to as the key to crypto’s mainstream adoption. 

Fundamentally, Web 3.0 lays strong emphasis on community-driven internet, laying the foundation for a place where users will operate in a decentralized way. In simple terms, it means people could use the internet without depending on government bodies or private businesses. 

According to the historical outlay of the internet, things kicked off at what was [then] referred to as Web 1.0, often cited as the “email login” era falling between 1990 and 1999. At the time, the internet crawled with static HTML pages; users could not do anything more than read and retain information. No interaction outside basic chat groups and forums, and no content uploading or downloading. 

In 2000, Web 2.0 emerged to fill the gap unattended to by the preceding internet generation. Along came the explosion of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, enabling users to not only interact but also create and upload content via cloud servers and databases. In a way, Web 2.0 was the first time people met online en masse. 

With the promise of a new era of information, Web 3.0 (which first popped up in 2020) looks to loosen tech giants’ grip on the ecosystem, as well as that of government-controlled organizations, to create a completely decentralized internet space. Web3 is the kind of internet where virtual wallets, cryptocurrency assets, and decentralized apps, among other no-third-party tools, are the building blocks.

Now, Africa missed Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 because the continent was only on the receiving end of both disruptions. Also, at the time, the region’s technological infrastructure and internet space were significantly underdeveloped. Meanwhile, not as many as the 30 percent of Africans connected today were connected then. 

However, today’s African internet ecosystem is one of the fastest-growing globally; in 2021, the sector attracted USD 4.08 B in venture capital, nearly four times the amount raised in pre-pandemic 2019 when funding first reached the USD 1 B mark. What else, more people are online, thanks to the rapid uptake of smartphones by a tech-forward populace with an average age of 20. 

Meanwhile, currently, adoption-wise, Africa has the fastest-growing cryptocurrency market in the world, as the continent’s youthful population seek new alternatives to local currencies and chase financial prosperity. Governments on the continent have not welcomed crypto adoption, and a handful of economies are finding a haven in CBDCs, with Nigeria and Ghana at the forefront. 

Thanks to the rise of local and international crypto-themed companies, the proliferation of mobile games, major crypto adoption and the attention of investors, Africa won’t be missing Web3. 

Jambo, a tech startup out of Congo—a wildly underrepresented country in the African tech club—announced today that it had raised USD 7.5 M in seed funding to build the “Web3 supper app” for Africa. Jambo’s propositions are creating the continent’s Web3 acquisition portal and democratizing crypto-based income generation by enabling play-to-earn gaming. Names such as Coinbase Ventures, Tiger Global, and DeFiance Capital partook in the seed round.

Early this month, Nestcoin, a Nigerian startup with a mission to build, operate and invest in Web3 applications, landed USD 6.4 M in pre-seed from the likes of Serena {Williams] Ventures, Voltron Capital and Future Africa, a deal said to be the second-largest of its kind in the continent. The company’s products include digital art, gaming, and decentralized finance (DeFi), with a related play to usher in the next generation of earning mobile gamers

Likewise, in January, Carry1st—an African games publisher—secured USD 20 M in a Series A extension round led by the highly referenced Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). The round, which also saw the participation of Google, Avenir, Nas, and founders from Axie Infinity, Chipper Cash, Sky Mavis, and Yield Guild Games, will enable Carry1st venture into Web3—bringing mobile gaming in Africa to an inflection point

According to research by Chainalysis, the cryptocurrency market in Africa multiplied by 1,200 percent between July 2020 and June 2021, reaching USD 105.6 B in the latter period. Global crypto-focused companies might miss out big time if they do not make inroads to take advantage of the growing adoption; the region tops peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms in terms of transaction volume. 

In conjunction with the Middle East, Africa has 5.9 million gamers who own crypto assets, and there is reason to expect a further explosion of figures since the region will have the world’s largest concentration of young people by 2050. This metric, alongside previously-mentioned others, make the African continent an ideal building ground for Web3 applications. 

Will it work? As much as it looks like it will, only time can tell. 

Featured Image: Webflow

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