As 2024 approaches we look at the growth in the African Web3 industry, with innovation and adoption set to conintue.
The list of African-owned or based Web3 projects continues to increase as various innovators find ways to use blockchain technology to fix some of the biggest issues on the continent and the rest of the globe. In this article, we look at the top African Web3 projects that are well-positioned to thrive in the new year.
2024 is tipped to be a bullish year for the entire Web3 space. Speculators are bullish on the price of cryptocurrencies as they await the approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF and the Bitcoin halving. Traditionally, Web3 projects, regardless of whether they have tokens or not, benefit immensely from the positive sentiments that follow positive price action. However, for projects to benefit from this, they must have put in the work during the bear run; hence the popular Web3 saying – “build during the bear.” Here is a list of African Web3 projects building in the bear.
Afropolitan may be the way people spend and access exclusive experiences across Africa in 2024. The project started off as the first Pan-African Network State with a mission to help 1 billion Africans live their most abundant lives and is shaping up to be an important player in cryptocurrency adoption. The project started its Web3 journey with an Afropolitan Citizens NFT collection, which sold out and has now expanded into payments.
Connected to the project’s mission to create an ecosystem with a resource pool of black and African talent, culture, capital, information, and global experiences accessible for Africans and Diasporan Africans, Afropolitan has launched Afropass.
Afropass is a web application that makes international payments easier. The platform allows users to pay at multiple restaurants and lifestyle events with local currencies and USDC. In December alone, Afropolitan has partnered with over 38 events happening across the holiday season in Lagos, Nigeria, and Accra, Ghana.
The network state that started with an NFT collection on Ethereum may be a popular reference point for cryptocurrency adoption in the new year. People looking to join other black creatives and innovators may do so through their NFT and gated community. At the same time, the masses can use the Afropass platform to spend their stablecoins at select locations across African cities.
Two Nigerian cryptocurrency veterans have come together to build a stablecoin-to-fiat lending and liquidation protocol for emerging markets called Finna Protocol. Started by Adebayo Juwon, former Business and Operations Manager – Africa of FTX and Agbona AG Igwemoh, former Chief Operations and Marketing Officer at Kylin Network and CEO of Glacier Network, Finna Protocol is building a multi-utility ecosystem for stablecoins in collateralization, payments, and remittances. The project plans to launch the Finna Lend product in the coming weeks and stablecoin-funded virtual and physical cards down the road.
As most African countries continue to battle currency devaluation and economic strife, stablecoins have become useful for many who are looking to save in U.S. dollars without paying high fees to banks. Combining this trend with the existing gaps in the lending and borrowing industry on the continent, Finna Protocol may have found an important niche for Web3 adoption in Africa.
In 2023, Finna Protocol partnered with Thresh0ld for secure and affordable management of digital assets and met with Lars Seier Christensen, the chairman and founder of Concordium, to discuss the potential of Europe, a new Euro-backed stablecoin in the coming months.
Francophone Africa is usually not the focus when discussing cryptocurrency adoption in Africa. Some of these countries have experienced a difficult 2023 due to political instability from coup de tats and the economic sanctions that followed. This, in addition to other economic factors, has created an unfavorable economic situation. This environment fits the general narrative of places that need to be exposed to an alternative traditional system besides their local financial system.
One of the startups taking on this challenge is Ejara. The platform plans to “democratize access to investment and savings products across the region, using blockchain technology.” After raising $8 million in Series A investment led by Anthemis and Dragonfly, the Cameroonian Web3 company is looking to expand.
The platform currently allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrency for the West African CFA franc and create interest-bearing accounts that provide a better yield than local financial institutions. Ejara intends to combine the crypto market with exposure to the U.S. market, with fractionalized shares coming soon.
As francophone Africa continues to develop and Web3 adoption begins to pick up in that region, Ejara is well-positioned to capture the attention of users.
Valr has had a great 2023 in terms of expansion and partnerships despite the negative price action in the cryptocurrency markets. The South African-based exchange partnered with Pick n Pay to make cryptocurrency payments available in over 1,500 stores in the country, representing the largest cryptocurrency integration for a brick-and-mortar store chain on the continent.
Valr also partnered with Visa to issue payment cards, allowing users to spend their cryptocurrency globally. The exchange has also made its intentions of expanding into new territories clear by receiving initial approval from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA). Although this initial approval only allows Valr to provide virtual asset services, it is crucial in establishing a virtual asset exchange in Dubai.
Embracing the changing nature of trading and providing more options for investors, Valr launched the world’s first Bitcoin and USDT futures paired against the rand (ZAR) with plans to list more perpetual futures contracts in the coming months.
With strong predictions pointing to bullish price action in the cryptocurrency space, Valr’s moves in 2023 may put the company in a prime spot to benefit from the retail investor’s influx.
Yele Bademosi is no stranger to building Web3 products for Africa. The former Director of Binance Labs and CEO of Bundle is behind Onboard Wallet. The new cryptocurrency wallet combines the features of regular crypto wallets while embedding fiat on-ramp and off-ramp tools that make it easier for users to manage their spending.
Onboard Wallet is looking to solve major adoption pain points. Due to unfavorable cryptocurrency regulations in Africa, fiat on-ramps have struggled to ensure instant settlements, leading to an overreliance on peer-to-peer marketplaces. Even though these P2P platforms work, they are slower compared to the instant on-ramp platforms in the past. Onboard intends to fix this with Onboard Direct. The product gives users a wallet address that is tied to a bank account. Users receive cash in their bank accounts when money is sent to their crypto wallet address.
As more people adopt cryptocurrency as a means of payment and more Africans begin to work in the Web3 ecosystem, tools like Onboard Direct, Fonbnk and Kotani Pay may lead the adoption drive on the continent in 2024.