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Block has injected substantial funds into a local Bitcoin mining company that plans to provide 25-cent electricity to rural Africa.
Digital payments firm Block Inc (NYSE: SQ) is backing a Bitcoin (BTC) mining firm that plans to provide subsidized electricity to rural Africa. According to reports, the tech conglomerate will partner with Bitcoin-focused venture firm Stillmark to invest in a local specialized platform. Block and Stillmark have spearheaded a $2 million seed investment into Gridless, a company that designs, constructs, and operates mining sites in tandem with pocket-sized renewable energy producers in rural Africa. This part of the continent lacks the required energy due to the costly infrastructure needed to achieve and capture it.
With Block’s seed funding, Gridless stated that it would establish new mines in addition to its three functional operational sites near Nairobi, Kenya. Thomas Templeton, Bitcoin mining and wallet lead at Block, believes that BTC and mining serve as a viable means to empower these villages. He also stated:
“Gridless represents a close strategic alignment with our vision of ensuring the Bitcoin network increasingly leverages clean energy, in combination with Bitcoin computational centers around the world.”
The Block and Stillmark initiative with Gridless feeds into the Jack Dorsey-led company’s broader goal. Block is championing Bitcoin mining as a veritable energy source and looks to make mining more distributable and efficient.
Block Has Work Cut Out for Bitcoin Mining Agenda in Africa
Although Block views the Bitcoin creation process as a long-term requirement for a decentralized future, the company faces a significant hurdle. Mining rigs are difficult to access, expensive, and typified by erratic delivery. Nonetheless, Block intends to build a new ASIC, which is a specialized gear for mining Bitcoin. In addition, the tech-oriented company envisions this hardware being useful for other endeavors beyond the scope of mining. According to Block chief executive Jack Dorsey, who still has plans to migrate to Africa for six months:
“We’re working on a hardware miner to make it more, hopefully, accessible and more efficient for people around the world and especially on the continent to participate in securing the network and making it even more resilient in the form of something that’s also useful for other things, not just mining.”
In addition, Dorsey, who was in Accra then, also demonstrated Block’s willingness to partner with several companies on the continent. This way, the self-avowed Bitcoin devotee opines that several people could easily onboard onto BTC.
Gridless is one of the most notable beneficiaries of the Block Africa Bitcoin mining agenda. The BTC mining facilitator and operator is the brainchild of Nairobi native Janet Maingi and two other co-founders, Erik Hersman and Philip Walton. Gridless’ co-founders were frustrated by the energy generation-capacity divide in rural Kenya and wanted to address the imbalance.
With the formation of Gridless, Maingi and the co-founders wanted to determine whether the additional energy source could power hard-to-reach areas. Hersman explained that power and connectivity are necessary for a functional economy.
Gridless also plans to branch out into other parts of Africa, starting with launching another 50-kilowatt hydro mine in Malawi. Furthermore, the company revealed that it would establish its first solar-powered site in West Africa with a 30-kilowatt capacity.