A man's mission to deploy solar powered Bitcoin nodes across Africa


Look below for a map of public nodes on the Bitcoin Lighting Network. Europe and the United States filled them. The rest of the world is an empty ocean with a few scattered islands.

Africa seems to have a total of eight nodes. From this map, entrepreneur and IT expert Chimezie Chuta deduced that he was the only person in Nigeria known to be operating a Lightning button.

An important warning is that many users may be running buttons without letting them out to the world. But, all told, Lightning's activity seems sparse on the second largest continent and the second most populous planet.


Chuta wants to change this. Like many Bitcoiners, he believes that running a network node is one of the best ways to become truly financially independent. A special Lightning button, while tested and potentially risky to use, allows Africans to earn some cash by charging for money transfers online, he said.

Finally, BlockSpace Technologies Africa Inc., Chuta, has released a set of tools for the Bitcoin and Lightning buttons, including all the hardware to assemble, called SpaceBox, in the hope of expanding its use. technology across the continent.

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I think this will help many people living in low-income areas of the world become part of the Bitcoin ecosystem. Other than trading and speculation, Africa seems to have no representatives, Ch Chuta said.

Many Africans do not have access to financial services like traditional bank accounts. In 2015, the World Bank estimated that 350 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa were embargoed. In theory, operating a pair of nodes could connect Africans with a more modern financial system - and do so in a way that gives them more visibility and control of their money than they rely on. third-party.


The SpaceBox sells for 210,000 naira, the Nigerian currency, worth about $ 541. The main component of the toolkit is a tiny hobby computer called the Raspberry Pi that runs open source Raspblitz software for Lightning buttons. It also has a solar panel component, since many Africans lack electricity.

Our goal is to build an army of full Bitcoin Lightning node operators to dot every corner of the continent in the next year, '' said Ch Chuta. We plan to sell and deploy at least 250 of these nodes over the next six months.

So far, in the past month, the company has received seven orders, one from British Columbia, five from Nigeria and one from Ghana.

Financial sovereignty
Some readers may feel deja vu. Half a decade ago, Africa was billed as a fertile ground for accepting cryptocurrencies. Earlier, cheaper remittances were thought to be killer apps.

The cost of compliance, coupled with the bitcoin scaling challenges, is complicated to report. While some people, including those in Nigeria, actually use bitcoin to transfer money today, there is almost no dent in Western Union.

The Chuta yard is about to be different, emphasizing the autonomy that comes with running a full Bitcoin node and earning from a Lightning. It is a way to make money and protect money, not just sending money to others.

Running a full Bitcoin node basically means running the world's largest cryptocurrency infrastructure by market capitalization. Unlike mining, which requires significant investment in dedicated chips, power and cooling, anyone can run a button on a laptop with enough space. At least 10,000 people are running nodes today - a conservative estimate since not all nodes show the world they are running.

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While there is no direct financial reward for running the Bitcoin node, it has advantages over depository services (where third parties hold their private keys) and simple payment verification wallets (only verifying transactions. their own translation). A full node has the ability to authenticate itself by retrieving every transaction recorded on the blockchain. With this information and the node rules downloaded, users can directly verify that transactions follow network rules.

As the last bullshit detector, it can tell you whether you are getting the wrong data or not.

Maybe having financial sovereignty has become a necessity and Bitcoin provides the main tool to get there, according to Mr. Ch Chuta.

The Lightning SpaceBox button component is built on top of the Bitcoin node. Lightning tries to solve one of Bitcoin Bitcoin's biggest problems: increasing scalability so that more people can use the network at the same time. If successful, it could become the primary way to make daily payments in cryptocurrency - and generate revenue for running nodes.

Although operating a full Lightning Lightning node is like a hobbyist's participation, some people have earned some money by positioning their nodes as [a] lightning payment routing channel, As Ch Chuta said.

Solar
There are several options for building Lightning nodes, such as RaspiBlitz or just buying them already ordered from vendors like myNode.

Most node manufacturers claim that users will have a stable power source to plug in, which is a safe assumption in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Bank, more than half the population lacks electricity.

In terms of infrastructure, Nigeria (and some other African countries) has very poor power supply, so maintaining the operation of a full node is very difficult, Bitcoin Bitcoin contributor Tim Akinbo tell CoinDesk.

Therefore, the solar panel comes with the SpaceBox set.

This frequent lack of power has denied most bitcoin enthusiasts on the continent the opportunity to participate in the global multi-billion dollar bitcoin industry as a miner or router node operator. . By integrating [an] affordable solar kit into the operation of the bitcoin node, we hope that many others around the world, especially Africans, can participate.

See also: Money reimagined: The ongoing crisis is stirring up an awakening of cryptocurrencies in developing countries.

In addition to electricity, Akinbo notes there are other costs to running a full node. They require a lot of storage space, for example.

Currently, it is unbelievable for most Africans, Ak Akbo said, arguing that only rich bitcoin in Africa can buy a node.

But in Chuta's vision, not everyone necessarily runs a button. Perhaps there will be experts who learn to run them, he said, who then pass on the benefits to their local community.

The main view of this project is to educate and train capable node operators across Africa, who can then help their small communities maintain 'node friends and family, to ensure Preserve a healthy financial future for them, Mr. Ch Chuta said.

He hopes orders will throw snow after the coronavirus disappears, because the pandemic has hurt BlockSpace hardware suppliers.

As soon as the COVID-19 issues are resolved, we will launch a full campaign that will make a significant impact based on our vision, according to Mr. Ch Chuta.