Africa's first metaverse sees demand for virtual land
Africarare, Africa’s first metaverse, is fast building momentum as organisations and artists purchase virtual land to showcase African creativity and connect the continent to the global digital economy.
Developed by Johannesburg-based innovation company Mann Made, Africarare is a 3D virtual reality immersive hub. It houses a metaverse marketplace that showcases African art, and provides a platform for businesses and artists to display their offerings.
Dubbed the next evolution of social connection, the metaverse is loosely defined as an extensive online world where people interact via digital avatars.
The 3D virtual reality experience is set in Ubuntuland, a virtual world in Africa that marries creativity, crypto-currency and commerce. Users are also able to trade on secondary platforms, such as OpenSea.
According to the company, over the weekend, 149 plots of Ubuntuland sold out in less than eight minutes after being released for sale.
The flash sale took place on OpenSea, with a limited volume of single land plots available for $149 each, in order to satisfy growing interest in the platform and enable virtual land owners to start developing their real estate.
Piece of virtual Africa
New Ubuntuland owners join MTN, Africa’s largest multinational mobile telecommunications company, and marketing consultancy M&C Saatchi Abel, which earlier this year became the first South African companies to enter the metaverse.
The telco bought 144 plots of virtual land, with an overall area of 12x12m. Its real estate plots in Africarare allow MTN to build multiple experiences that showcase different parts of its business around the world.
“We are thrilled that the available land was swept up so quickly, showing there is massive demand for African virtual land,” says Mic Mann, co-founder and CEO of Africarare.
“Africarare will connect Africa to this booming arena of the global economy, stimulate growth and create multiple new jobs − such as digital designers, creators and architects − and more branded villages will be announced soon.”
There will only ever be 204 642 plots of land available on the platform, made up of different village sizes in various community hubs, he adds. The land is positioned and priced according to a tiered value system, based on village size and area.
These single plots, which are 16 square metres in land area, can be built on one floor and used to create a small shop or kiosk, or a variety of stores to showcase goods and services.
Landholders can customise their 3D land spaces, by hosting shops, producing resources, renting virtual services and developing games or other applications.
Designated spaces will serve the community for work, play and wellness purposes, including meeting rooms, online therapy rooms (with optional anonymity), concert stages, film festival spaces, meditation lounges and other interactive environments.
Future developments include DAO (decentralised autonomous organisations) and blockchain play-to-earn gaming.
“Virtual land is a real investment opportunity and early adopters are making forward-thinking decisions. The possibilities for personalisation and commercialisation are endless,” says Shayne Mann, co-founder of Africarare.
Two art galleries already exist in Africarare, showcasing Africa’s prolific creativity. The Mila (Swahili for ‘tradition’) gallery hosts curated collections by some of Africa’s foremost artists, while the Inuka (Swahili for ‘rise’) gallery will feature works by emerging African artists from later in 2022.
Both galleries will stage various exhibitions on an ongoing basis, with art pieces being sold as non-fungible tokens.
The next public land sale will be announced on Africarare’s social media channels soon.
As the metaverse trend continues to grow, cyber security experts have warned that local companies should be cognisant of a number of novel cyber security risks that may have dire ramifications in the real world.
They say metaverse and non-fungible token platforms, which are often based on blockchain or distributed ledger technology, open up a world of infinite vulnerabilities for both users and companies.
Slow connectivity has also been cited as a hindering factor for metaverse platforms.
“The metaverse will undoubtedly be persistent and comprise of large amounts of information. Connecting to this digital reality will require fast and reliable online speed to manage the requisite bandwidth and interoperability demand,” says George Senzere, solutions architect for Secure Power at Schneider Electric.