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Startups look to electrify Sub-Saharan Africa using Blockchain, cryptocurrency

Startups look to electrify Sub-Saharan Africa using Blockchain, cryptocurrency

Solar micro-leasing marketplace Sun Exchange has partnered with mini-grid solutions provider Powerhive to roll out solar-powered rural electrification mini-grid projects using Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The partnership is based on the trade of Sun Exchange SUNEX digital rewards tokens.

Proceeds from sales of the tokens will be used by Powerhive to provide decentralised solar power and members who trade will have the opportunity to own cells within the projects, which will serve as a revenue stream from electricity supplied.

"Right now, the individuals in the villages where Powerhive is yet to operate have no access to power at all," says Sun Exchange founder, Abe Cambridge. "This means they have to walk hours to towns to charge phones, spend a considerable percentage of their income on health-threatening kerosene, and children are unable to read at night. Once they have been connected to a Powerhive mini-grid, all that changes and they instantly have lower costs for lighting and electricity."

The low level of awareness around crypto in some parts of Africa will not impact the project according to Cambridge. He said that end users of the electricity supplied will continue to pay using SMS-based mobile money M-Pesa for the time being until they ultimately transition to a crypto payment.

"However, that is not the main application of crypto payments happening here," said Cambridge.

"The key point is that Sun Exchange gets the mini-grids financed with cryptocurrency, and then pays back the owners of the panels (most of whom will be remotely located) using crypto, down to micro level leases. This means that for a very low cost, anyone in the world can own solar cells powering these communities and receive a moderate income from it, this was impossible prior to the advent of crypto which made global micro-transacting economically unviable. The universal, transparency and transnational characteristics of crypto is what we are utilising initially."

Each solar project through Sun Exchange is pegged to the local fiat currency or the USD or EUR. The owners of the solar panels will absorb the volatility that goes with the Exchange which they can mitigate by distributing their solar cells across multiple projects and regions.

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