How a small Maasai village in Kenya skips the world when it comes to energy innovation with blockchain

Solar panels in the Singiriane pharmacy

“In rural areas, one could have someone who has a solar system with excess electricity that could benefit others and provide versatile access to energy without large upfront capital costs,” said Wangari Muchiri Innovation Lead, Voices for Climate Action at Hivos.

BitHub Africa has successfully tested a distributed energy system based on the Bitcoin Lightning Network (BLN) and the Whive protocol in a small Maasai village in Kenya. It’s called the Melanin Smart Box (MSBX). Singiriane, a remote village deep in the Maasai country in the Great Rift Valley, now has access to electricity via solar energy, which they share in the form of digital tokens. In addition, 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 are now technology pioneers.

These efforts were made possible in collaboration with the Kajiado County Government and the Impact Venture Fund Hivos East Africa, which enabled the installation of the first pilot phase in a local pharmacy, school, church and households in the village.

The community praises the project, which is proving to be very valuable to them.

“In many local facilities in the village there was no proper lighting, coupled with uncertainty at night. Since we have had Melanin Solar, we have saved the cost of buying gasoline”, village elder, village Singiraine.

Melanin Solar, one of the forerunner projects of BitHub Africa and the first of its kind in Africa, uses blockchain technology and uses both the Bitcoin Lightning Network (BLN) and the Whive protocol. This allows communities to share energy with one another via the BLN and store excess energy in the form of digital Whive tokens. This deployment of the first prototype by Melanin Solar follows five years of research and development by BitHub Africa in its research laboratory in Nairobi.

The BLN is a second-layer network built on top of Bitcoin’s blockchain and enables real-time transactions to be automated through the MSBX while reducing the costs associated with using Bitcoin’s Layer 1 blockchain.

Introduced on 02/02/2020, the Whive Blockchain Protocol is a peer-to-peer (p2p) blockchain protocol that encourages the construction of sustainable energy solutions through trusted rewards that allow 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 standout features is CPU mining; optimized to accelerate the introduction of solar mining. The protocol can also be used for other environmental, social and governance (ESG) projects, in particular for wind and mini hydropower projects in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Whive Utility Token has since been exposed to market conditions following its listing on the Singapore SWFT Exchange and the UK Dex Trade Exchange. BitHub Africa was also instrumental in developing the Whive protocol as a major contributor along with US-based Ujengo Lab LLC.

Aside from digital energy storage, the distributed energy project offers the community a number of other benefits, including the ability to share energy on a peer-to-peer (p2p) marketplace using blockchain technology.

In a recent interview, BitHub Africa co-founder and project leader John Wainaina Karanja claimed that the project has the benefit of turning solar energy consumers who rely on credit to purchase home solar systems into prosumers who produce, consume, store and share excess energy with members of your community in a scalable manner.

Driven by the urgency of decarbonization efforts for the good of the planet, the use of decentralized open source technology can accelerate progress and create a transformative level of innovation and transparency. Blockchain has the ability to accelerate a shared vision and provide market-oriented solutions related to decarbonization. It’s a collaborative effort to ensure the industry doesn’t add to the onslaught of climate change.

The successful one-year pilot project confirms that realizing clean energy solutions with blockchain technology is “not inaccessible” not only for communities in remote regions, but also for residents in urban areas. BitHub Africa via Melanin Solar is therefore aiming to promote this adoption as it is entering the African market with $ 2 trillion for p2p solar energy using blockchain technology.

The pilot project offers a glimpse into an already unfolding future and creates the conditions for Africa to be at the forefront of global energy innovation and climate protection, driven by the power of technology to bring about change, a welcome prospect in this small patch of earth, the village of Singiraine, where a rising hope for a better future lies in the sun.

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