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Meta's metaverse training in Africa may not bear the desired results – Quartz

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Meta wants to spread the metaverse hype in 16 African countries, and has announced a series of programs under its global extended reality (XR) fund to grow metaverse talent.
But the challenge is that for many Africans, the concept of the metaverse is still too theoretical with buy-in relying on people seeing how it can enhance their livelihoods or businesses. Coupled with the restrictively high costs of VR headsets, slow internet speeds, and high costs of data on the continent, the metaverse will face a bumpy ride in Africa.
“It’s good for the future but we’re are not there yet, economically we’re struggling. People hardly understand the concept of the metaverse. If you tweet about the metaverse in Africa people get curious but are confused,” founder of Nairobi-based social media analytics startup Brand Moran, Egline Samoei tells Quartz. “Those who understand it don’t know how to merge it with their businesses.”
Phil Oduor, policy programs lead for Africa at Meta says that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are core to continent’s metaverse future and the company will be pumping $50 million into a two-year training program which aims “to support African XR talent who are building innovative solutions that demonstrate the various aspects of the metaverse in Africa.”
The company is partnering with two startups–Nairobi-based BlackRhino VR and Lagos-based Imisi 3D–and hopes they will help it lodge a successful continental drift into the metaverse. The existence of only two players pioneering VR tech in the continent speaks volumes about Africa’s preparedness for an immersive universe where Gen X and Gen Z are expected to spend up to five hours in the next five years.
The concept of the metaverse is still new in Africa, and sales of VR headsets, VR glasses, and Google cardboards have been low because many people are yet to understand what living in the metaverse actually means.
Meta has no plans to make its VR devices affordable for Africa and is in fact doing the converse–raising the price by $100. Meta’s Oculus Quest 2, for instance, costs $396 in Nairobi, a price too high for a continent undergoing economic strife. Curiosity notwithstanding, many Africans cannot afford to join the metaverse obsession and Meta’s efforts may not bear the results it is targeting.
Nick Chumba a 20-year-old web designer finds no inspiration in the metaverse. “Why would I need to purchase a VR headset? Why would I buy designer clothes for a digital avatar? Even the idea of selling digital land, what’s the real value?” Chumba says, highlighting the fact that even African techies are not sure how the metaverse will serve them.
Immersive experiences with high-definition video applications require internet data speeds of between 80-100 megabits per second while low resolution 360-degree experiences available in most VR head-mounted displays require at least 25 megabits per second. Africa’s average internet speed is 5.74 Mbps, and the cost is highest in the world. A number of countries are testing 5G networks, but 3G and 4G networks are the mainstay in the whole of Africa.

For Savio Wambugu, a United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) tech consultant who serves in the advisory board of Kenya’s association of countrywide innovation hubs, Africa is the most promising place to implement the metaverse, but there’s a lot of work to be done in improving infrastructure and growing metaverse talent.
“Big tech companies are setting base in Africa. This has brought a ripple effect on the skillset needed to build, implement, and adapt to the metaverse. The challenge now is the infrastructural internet capability to support all this which should be upgraded,” he tells Quartz.
At the end, many Africans believe, it’s all about the physical life they’re living and not the virtual one. And they already have enough daily challenges to deal with. But Meta remains optimistic that its efforts to grow metaverse skillsets could help it inject an additional $40 billion into Africa’s GDP in the next decade.
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Metaverse Crypto Index Fund Launched by Matthew Ball, Multicoin, and Bitwise – Decrypt

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There's a wide array of crypto builders working to bring the metaverse to life, whether it's via platforms, tools, assets, or infrastructure. Now one of the leading voices around the metaverse has launched an index fund focused on crypto assets tied to the next-generation internet.
Today, writer and venture capitalist Matthew Ball announced a partnership with Multicoin Capital and Bitwise Asset Management to launch the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index. Bitwise has also made an associated fund available to qualified purchasers.
"We developed the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index Fund because, prior to today, there was no easy, expert, and methodologically diversified way for investors to have broad-based exposure to bona fide metaverse-focused crypto assets," Ball told Decrypt.
"To this end, the Index doesn't exist to time Event A or Market Conditions B. It exists so that investors can participate in what we believe is a multi-trillion dollar transformation, which will unfold over the coming decade," he continued. "If blockchain is relevant to the future of the metaverse, and our approach is sound, we believe the opportunity is significant—today, tomorrow, next month, and so forth."
The index will feature up to 40 crypto assets chosen by the partners, but a list of included assets was not provided to Decrypt by the time of publication. Bitwise's associated fund is available to qualified purchasers with a $100,000 minimum investment.
Ball described the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index as a "rules-driven index that combines the best of institutional indexing approaches with special adaptations to the crypto and metaverse spaces. That includes various risk screens, such as analyzing liquidity, developer activity, tech and regulatory risk, and "relevancy to the metaverse," said Ball.
"The ultimate goal is to curate the crypto assets that will be outsized contributors to the creation and success of an open metaverse," he added.
The metaverse refers to a future version of the internet that many believe will be built on blockchain technology. It's expected to be a more immersive and interactive experience that people navigate via 3D avatars and use for work, play, shopping, and socializing. It may also use NFT assets for user-owned items like avatars, apparel, and virtual land.
Ethereum-based games like Decentraland and The Sandbox are seen as early examples of the metaverse.
Facebook also showcased its own vision for the space and even rebranded its parent company to Meta last fall. However, it's not entirely clear whether Facebook's plan is for an open platform that is interoperable with others.
Ball is a leading writer on the metaverse whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Economist, and Bloomberg. His book, "The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything," is due out from W.W. Norton in July.
He's also a managing partner at EpyllionCo, which has invested in crypto startups such as Dapper Labs and Mirror, as well as a venture partner at Makers Fund. Ball is also behind the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, which focuses on metaverse-centric stocks and trades on the New York Stock Exchange.
"Our objective was the creation of a diversified, balanced, and expertly-designed crypto Metaverse Index," explained Multicoin Capital co-founder and managing partner, Kyle Samani.
"This required a similarly capable team," he continued. "Matthew Ball is the definitive thought-leader in metaverse strategy and investing. We specialize in crypto assets and are one of the preeminent crypto investment firms. And Bitwise Asset Management is the proven leader in crypto indexes and index funds."

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Meta's losses show the metaverse's costly risk – Insider Intelligence

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Facebook parent Meta launches startup accelerator with India’s IT ministry in metaverse push – TechCrunch

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Meta Platforms is looking at India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem as it bolsters its bet on the metaverse. The social juggernaut has partnered with the Indian IT Ministry’s startup hub to launch an accelerator in the country to broaden innovation in emerging technologies, including augmented reality and virtual reality, officials said Tuesday.
MeitY Startup Hub and Meta’s effort, called XR Startup Program, will work with 40 early-stage startups and help them in research and development and developing workable products and services. Each startup will also receive a grant of over $25,000, the American giant said.
The program, supported by Meta’s $50 million XR Programs and Research Fund, will initially hand pick 80 startups to attend a bootcamp. It will also help startups with finding customers, inking relationships and raising funds, Meta said.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said the program is especially aimed at helping encourage technology innovation in smaller cities and towns.
The XR Startup Program is the latest of Meta’s growing participation in the South Asian market’s upskilling efforts. The firm, whose Facebook and WhatsApp services identify India as their largest market by users, partnered with Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in the country, to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.
The program — to be implemented by four Indian institutions, including IIT Delhi — will also host a “grand challenge” for innovation in categories including education, healthcare, entertainment, agritech, climate action, sustainability and tourism, the American giant said.
“India will play a pivotal role in defining future technologies. Decisions and investments made here in India now shape global discussions on how technology can deliver more economic opportunity and better outcomes for people. It is critical that we help to create an ecosystem that will enable India’s tech startups and innovators to build the foundations of the metaverse,” said Joel Kaplan, VP of Global Policy at Meta, in a statement.
Meta’s interest with working with startups in India is also not newly found. The company has backed three startups in the country, including social commerce platform Meesho and online education group Unacademy.
3 views: Is the metaverse for work or play?

“India’s rapid tech adoption combined with a vast pool of tech talent puts the country in a vantage position for shaping the future of the internet,” said Ajit Mohan, VP and MD of Facebook India, in a statement.
“For this future to be equitable, it will require active participation from all stakeholders, including developers, businesses, creators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. We are excited to collaborate with MeitY Startup Hub and hope that the XR Startup Program will act as a catalyst to unlock the use of immersive technology across sectors like education, healthcare, agritech and tourism, not only in India but across the globe.”

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