Erik Hersman is the co-founder of Gridless, & Marshall Long is the Head of Architecture for Rhodium Enterprises. In this interview, we discuss Bitcoin in Africa: the need, the use and the support the wider community can give. We also talk about energy poverty in Africa, Bitcoin’s role in supporting mini-grids, and how Gridless’s business model & Marshall’s financing plan accelerate this process.
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There are around 800 million people in the world without access to electricity. Around 75`% of those live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Given populations are distributed over vast areas in Africa, and governments have limited access to capital, grid connections can be economically unviable. But mini-grids are also challenging because of the difficulty of getting a return on the high initial investment costs: demand in these poor communities takes time to build.
To date, the only option has been well-meaning but unsustainable charitable ventures that can have unintended negative second-order effects. But then Bitcoin mining showed how curtailed energy can be monetised, and a problem has suddenly become an opportunity. It is estimated Africa could produce 2.5 million terawatt hours of wind and solar energy per year (the US uses around 4,000 terawatt hours of energy per year). The business opportunity is huge.
In the fascinating interview, Eric Hesman of Gridless discusses how his company is partnering with communities in need of energy to provide subsidised power. Marshall Long sets out how his family office is helping with much-needed finance for energy projects in Africa that utilise Bitcoin mining. Together they set out the transformational impact such initiatives could have for the continent.