Afropolitan Takes Africa to Web3 as it Gets $2.1M to Build a Digital Nation for Africans

Afropolitan Takes Africa to Web3 as it Gets $2.1M to Build a Digital Nation for Africans

Afropolitan Group, an Afrocentric Community As A Service Company (CAAS) that curates a seamless experience in Travel, Events, and Media for the African diaspora, has raised $2.1 million in pre-seed funding led by Srinivasan to build a digital nation for Africans.

Other angel investors include Future Africa’s Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Flutterwave’s Olugbenga Agboola, Hustle Fund’s Elizabeth Yand in, and Paystack’s Shola Akinlade, Syndicate’s Ian Lee, 4DX Ventures’ Walter Baddoo, Jason Njoku, CloudTrucks’ Tobenna Arodiogbu, Carbon’s Ngozi Dozie, and Meta. In addition, Atlantica Ventures, Hashed, RallyCap Ventures, Microtraction, and Cultur3 also invested in the pre-seed round.

Eche Emole and Chika Uwazie co-founded Afropolitan in 2016 as an organization that organized parties, events, and festivals for the African diaspora. The startup gained prominence after successfully organizing parties for international travelers who had visited Ghana to attend the Year of Return event in 2019, where the number of international travelers peaked at 1.13 million, from 960,000 in 2018, which helped contribute an additional $1.9 billion to the Ghanaian economy. 

Afropolitan was planning its 2020 edition of the party, tagged “Beyond the Return,” when the global pandemic broke out, countries went into lockdown, and physical events ceased. However, its traction in 2019 enabled it to transition to media. It got on the Clubhouse audio platform and grew into a community of 50,000 black people. Other elements that contributed to its rise included its podcast and, more importantly, the founders’ experience in online community building; they have over 200,000 followers on Clubhouse between them and their expanding businesses.

The inspiration for a digital nation is traceable to Balaji Srinivasan’s April 2021 article, “How to start a new country” in the 21st century. The Coinbase former CTO envisions that this new country, the “network state,” he calls it, will be” built on the cloud-first. “Our idea is to proceed cloud-first, land last. Rather than starting with the physical territory, we start with the digital community. We recruit online for a group of people interested in founding a new virtual social network, a new city, and eventually a new country,” he writes.

A network state, according to Srinivasan, is a digital nation constructed without the usual limits of a physical nation. A country that offers its residents a new beginning in terms of sociological and economic freedom.

In another essay, Balaji defines a network state as “a social network with an agreed-upon leader, an integrated cryptocurrency, a specific mission, a feeling of national awareness, and a plan to crowdfund territory.”

Because of the continent’s multiple failed states, Emole believes that Africa has the greatest need for a digital nation. He explained that lingering poverty (nine of the ten poorest African countries), coups d’etat, civil wars, and self-imposed autocratic leaders had deprived Africa of viable socio-economic opportunities. Emole also stated that #EndSARS, a two-week demonstration against police brutality in his native Nigeria, made him understand that while his country has intelligent people, this does not translate into good government. “It doesn’t matter how well the standards perform when terrible governance appears. It has an impact on everything around it. We’ve tried engineering our way out of these challenges, and it’s not working,” Emole said.

According to him, Afropolitan wants to solve the problem of global scarcity that black people face, which manifests in an inability to access institutions, money, jobs, and quality living by creating a digital nation that can enable black people worldwide to build abundant lives.

Emole foresees a digital nation as Facebook—the biggest social media platform in the world with over almost 3 billion users—filled with people with shared values and governed by a single cryptocurrency,

The digital nation of Afropolitan will be built in four stages. In the first phase, it will admit people into its community or decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), with NFTs serving as digital passports. In the second phase, it will create a nifty app that will let people track their holdings, transmit money across borders, earn money by contributing to the DAO, and buy products and services from one another. The next stage is a “minimum viable state,” which will allow it to provide government services, like assisting Africans caught up in the Russian-Ukraine situation. Following that, it plans to push for complete sovereignty and buy actual territories in cities worldwide. “Imagine a ‘Chinatown/Afropolitan Town’ in every city where our members can establish a physical presence to create economic opportunities. Our network state will serve as the capital that governs these enclaves that will serve as embassies,” the startup said in a statement. 

Shima Capital, One of the VCs that invested in Afropolitan, believes that Africa’s population, macroeconomics, and socio-economic states are similar to the ones that positioned the South East Asian region to capture value during the Web 2 technology boom. “We believe Africa is the next emerging economy that will significantly benefit from the technology paradigm shift from Web 2 to Web 3. However, for this value capture to take place, you need catalysts like Afropolitan,” Shima Capital said. 

“The African diaspora represents roughly 150 million people, while the continent is home to nearly 1.5 billion, with 70% in sub-Saharan Africa under 30. Its demographics make Africa one of this century’s most compelling growth stories, yet its intellectual, creative, and cultural capital remains overlooked, underfunded, and undervalued. Afropolitan aims to change that,” Cultur3 Capital said. It also believes in Afropolitan’s community approach: “Talking about ‘community’ is easy. Building it is hard. Cultur3 couldn’t be more excited to support Afropolitan in its mission to serve the African diaspora’s vast and deep talent. This community-first approach, combined with their unmatched network of Africa’s top entrepreneurs, artists, and creators, will be the key that unlocks the region’s vast yet underrepresented talent.”

This project is another audacious move by an African startup to establish a strong foothold on the metaverse by fairly representing the continent on the web3, following the sale of the first African virtual land, Ubantuland, on the metaverse earlier this year by a South African virtual reality metaverse called ‘Africarare.’

The concept of a digital nation isn’t entirely new, as Meta, formerly Facebook, popularized the idea recently with the launch of its metaverse project, but this is unique in that it intends to mimic African states and governments, which will allow Africans to experience the outstanding leadership that they have been lacking.

The virtual state will not just provide Africans with a breath of fresh air from the current mis-governance that they currently suffer in the hands of their respective governments but will equally be a very safe haven for all Africans all over the world who longed daily to reconnect with Mama Africa.

 

Blessed Frank

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