How a Small Maasai Village in Kenya Is Leap Frogging the World in Energy Innovation Using Blockchain

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BitHub Africa has successfully tested a Distributed Energy System built on the Bitcoin Lightning Network (BLN) and Whive Protocol in a small Maasai village in Kenya.

Solar Panels on Singiriane Dispensary

Solar Panels on Singiriane Dispensary

"In rural areas, you could have somebody who has a solar system with excess electricity that could benefit somebody else, providing versatile access to energy without a large capital cost upfront," Wangari Muchiri Innovation Lead, Voices for Climate Action at Hivos.

BitHub Africa has successfully tested a Distributed Energy System built on the Bitcoin Lightning Network (BLN) and Whive Protocol in a small Maasai village in Kenya. It is called the Melanin Smart Box (MSBX). Singiriane, an outlying village deep in Maasai-land in the Great Rift Valley now has access to electricity via solar, which they will share in the form of digital tokens. Not only that, they have the opportunity to participate in the often nebulous world energy market and build an entire distributed ecosystem of solar energy crowd-grids. The Maasai are a global cultural icon, and now, technology pioneers.

These efforts were made possible in partnership with the County Government of Kajiado and Impact Venture Fund Hivos East Africa, allowing for the installation of the initial pilot phase at a local dispensary, school, church and households within the village.

The community has applauded the project, which they say is proving to be highly valuable to them.
"There was no proper lighting in many local institutions at the village coupled with insecurity at night. Since we got Melanin Solar, we have made savings on costs that would go towards purchasing petrol," Village Elder, Singiraine village.

Melanin Solar, one of the forerunner projects by BitHub Africa and the first of its kind in Africa uses blockchain technology, leveraging both the Bitcoin Lightning Network (BLN) and the Whive Protocol. As a result, communities can share energy amongst themselves over the BLN as well as store excess energy in the form of Whive digital tokens. This deployment of the first prototype of Melanin Solar, follows five years of research and development by BitHub Africa at its research lab in Nairobi.

The BLN is a second layer network built on Bitcoin's blockchain that enables transactions to be automated by the MSBX in real-time, while decreasing the costs associated with using Bitcoin's layer 1 blockchain.

The Whive blockchain protocol launched on 02/02/2020 is a peer-to-peer (p2p) blockchain protocol that is incentivizing the building of sustainable energy solutions through trustless rewards enabling users to convert excess solar energy into blockchain-based digital tokens, a process known as digital energy storage.

As a green-first blockchain protocol, one of Whive's outstanding features is CPU mining; optimized to accelerate solar mining adoption. The protocol can also be used for other Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) projects, particularly in wind and mini-hydro projects in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations.

The Whive utility token has since been exposed to market conditions after its listing on the SWFT Exchange in Singapore and UK based Dex-Trade exchange. BitHub Africa, was also instrumental in the development of the Whive Protocol as one of the main contributors together with US based Ujengo Lab LLC.

Save for digital energy storage, the distributed energy project, presents an array of other benefits to the community, which includes the ability to share energy between themselves in a peer-to-peer(p2p) marketplace using blockchain technology.

In a recent interview, BitHub Africa's co-founder and Project Lead John Wainaina Karanja asserted that the project has the benefit of turning consumers of solar energy who rely on loans to acquire solar home systems to become prosumers, who produce, consume, store, and share excess energy with members of their community in a scalable manner.

Spurred by a sense of urgency towards decarbonization efforts for the sake of the planet, the use of open-source, decentralized technology can expedite progress, creating transformational levels of innovation and transparency. Blockchain has the ability to accelerate a shared vision and provide market-led solutions in relation to decarbonization. It is a community effort to ensure that the industry does not further aggravate the onslaught of climate change.

The successful year-long pilot affirms that the realization of clean energy solutions using blockchain technology not only for communities living in outlying regions but also for residents in urban areas is "not unattainable." BitHub Africa via Melanin Solar, thus aims to boost this adoption as it taps into the $2 trillion African market for p2p solar energy powered by blockchain.

Glimpsing into a future already unfolding, the pilot sets the stage for Africa to be at the forefront of global energy innovation and climate action fueled by the potency of technology to enact change, a welcome prospect in this small pocket of the earth that is Singiraine village, where lies a rising hope of a brighter future in the sun.

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Christian Fortunat Kakoba
Melanin Solar
+1 (617) 397-8556
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John Wainaina Karanja
since: 10/2015
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