South Africa’s hopes of becoming a metaverse hub remain alive as devices such as Apple’s Vision Pro are expected to drive metaverse platforms as virtual reality becomes mainstream.
Contrary to the view that the metaverse is dead or dying, there is still interest in the concept in South Africa, although its adoption has been slow across the region. But some big firms have already invested in the metaverse, although it is still a “foreign concept to most non-technical people” in Africa.
Virtual reality devices to ignite interest
In a recent update during the Africa Tech Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, Mic Mann, the founder of the metaverse platform Africarare, shared insights into the sustained interest and adoption of virtual reality technology in the region.
According to Mann, despite the initial buzz around the metaverse quieting down, companies and individuals in South Africa are actively embracing the immersive experience offered by platforms like Ubuntuland.
“We are currently focusing more on building out our immersive mobile experience,” said Mann.
“But the excitement towards devices like Vision Pro and AI shows a promising future for the adoption of virtual reality technologies like the metaverse,” added Mann.
Mann further highlighted the continued interest in Ubuntuland, citing Primedia, one of South Africa’s major media companies, as an example of companies invested in the metaverse. Primedia is actively building its virtual village on the platform, underscoring the ongoing recognition of the metaverse’s attractive use cases.
The big brothers of Africa’s metaverse
Ubuntuland, the brainchild of Africarare, saw notable success last year, bringing on board top businesses like MTN and Nedbank, who have both established virtual presences on the platform. MTN, a telecoms firm, stated that it intended to use the platform to improve the digital experiences and engagement of its customers. Financial services group Nedbank joined Ubuntuland to,
“Enable Nedbank to engage in the future digital marketplaces, where we believe we need to meet and serve our clients.”
To keep interest in the concept, Mann outlined several initiatives, which include a free course on building products on Ubuntuland, the promotion of open-source software to empower developers, and the creation of content aimed at simplifying metaverse concepts for non-technical audiences.
As the excitement around devices like Apple’s Vision Pro and advancements in artificial intelligence grows, Mann believes the future of the metaverse in South Africa is promising. Africarare’s initiatives and partnerships underscore a concerted effort to make the metaverse more accessible, ensuring that the virtual realm becomes an integral part of the country’s digital landscape.
Interesting but pricey
A 2022 article by Business Insider Africa highlighted some of the challenges that Africans had to overcome in their bid to benefit from the opportunities available in metaverse technology.
Some of the challenges highlighted in that article were affordability, as the cost of the devices required to engage in metaverse activities is beyond the reach of many.
The other challenges were data costs, which are relatively high in some African countries. Concerns around the safety of users and their privacy also made it onto the list of challenges in metaverse adoption.
While there are still challenges in many African countries as well as a low acceptance rate from African users, Africarare is pushing towards availing the technology to everyone and pushing for metaverse dominance in Africa.