Efosa Ighodaro is the CEO/Founder of Hashgreed, the first African NFT marketplace. He had known about cryptocurrency since 2011 but was only interested in Forex. It took one of his friends who spurred him to buy his first crypto- XRP (Ripple) in 2016.
In an exclusive interview with Technext, Efosa, one of Africa’s foremost crypto/NFT proponents, narrates his experience and challenges.
Ighodaro saw NFT as a way to prove ownership and tokenise real-world assets. The reason he launched a platform for African content creators to monetise their craft even when NFT was not yet as mainstream as it is right now.
On January 4, 2021, we started the development of Hashgreed. It was supposed to be just for blockchain-based document certification..something everyone can use. But midway we added the NFT auction marketplace and smart contracts. On January 31st, 2021, Hashgreed was born. It is Africa’s first.
Hashgreed provides a blockchain-powered file certification tool, a multipurpose NFT/ web3 marketplace, access to real estate and tech startups ownership and low-interest DeFI-powered loans.
“So I saw Hashgreed and Kross blockchain as the solution to poverty and intimidation of Nigerian youths. Just imagine if Nigerians owned the Lekki toll gate via NFTs..they wouldn’t turn off the lights when the soldiers came to shoot their own citizens singing the national anthem. That’s why we are super aggressive this year with our $1 m Real Estate NFT based on a Lekki Phase 1 Residential Estate under construction.”
The Africa continent has some problems, ranging from young creators/merchants being underpaid, not included in prime investing opportunities, grappling with Intellectual Property theft, needing financing, safe and secure marketplace and a supportive community.
“And this is just the beginning. It’s about time we combine forces together via NFT to help ourselves or our hunger, poverty and love for too much fun will continue to be used against us”.
Hashgreed is fast becoming the future of content distribution on the continent. It prides itself in making NFT easy and accessible for Africans.
On Hashgreed’s unique selling point and how they have been able to extend the frontiers of NFT adoption, Ighodaro says:
“We have created our naira-backed token on the Waves blockchain (Hashgreed started on Waves) and soon on the Kross blockchain, it’s called Hashgreed Naira or HASH credits or HASH for short. This way we partner with local artists, and companies to release naira based NFTs. So our Nigerian users don’t have to buy bitcoin or Ethereum to own our NFTs, they just spend the same Naira they have.
“We are also educating hundreds and soon thousands through partnerships with churches and NGOs on Web3 and blockchain.” He says.
Read also: “Blockchain is freedom from authoritarianism” – Olóyè discusses crypto, web3 in Africa
Efosa Ighodaro’s giant strides and his trailblazer company have not come without hurdles.
“The first challenge is in the crypto community. The early players and educators who through their work have gathered lots of followers are unable to partner with Nigerian blockchain companies. They prefer working for Binance and other foreigners.
“We must beat our own path in the bush and create a new generation of Africans that invest in their own startups, own several diversified pieces of real estate, farms, factories through NFT and blockchain tech and learn to work in unity. We cannot continue to sell our market and ourselves for crumbs. So their time is short, we are taking over this year.”
Efosa has also encountered a challenge in the area of investment.
“Most of the time the so-called Nigerian VCs just piggy back on American or European investors. Or they want to see so much revenue first. That is just a symptom of the root cause of the first challenge- Lack of unity and ownership mentality.”
NFT in Africa
Africans are now dancing harder in the NFT party. A survey by Finder ranks Nigeria as the 6th largest adopter of NFTs and South Africa as 12th. The survey also hints that NFT adoption will more than double in these countries due to the high interest among respondents. However, Efosa Ighodaro believes there is still room for improvement.
“Well, it’s actually picking up, but unless we strengthen our licensing and IP laws or believe in those laws we won’t see any real traction in those big purchase NFTs. Why will I buy a meme for N1m when a content creator can use it in their skit the next day and expect no repercussions?”
“NFTs are mostly licensed, and the law of the land has to be enforced for it to work. That’s why on Hashgreed, we steer our art NFT benefits towards physical land ownerships and commerce discounts. We can’t rely on just perception and ownership of the art alone.. for now”
The ‘digital arts Evangelist’ believes that NFT is definitely the future. “No doubt about it. The power of NFT is the blockchain and blockchain is the most disruptive tech in the last 100 years at least.”
Going forward, Efosa Ighodaro and Hashgreed look forward to providing more service to Nigerians and humanity in 2022.
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