News Link • Africa: On the Map • 2017-02-09

Meet the Man Running the Only Bitcoin Node In West Africa

A Nigerian developer wants to start building the bitcoin network in the region.

Stashed away somewhere in Lagos is a lonely piece of bitcoin software. Running on a server in a data center in the Nigerian capital, it's the only reachable bitcoin node of its type not just in the country, but in almost all of West and Central Africa, without a companion for thousands of miles in every direction.

The node in Lagos is owned and run by 35 year old software developer Tim Akinbo, who said that his interest in bitcoin stems from gaps in the African financial ecosystem.

"Moving money from one country to another in Africa can be very tough," Akinbo says in a Skype call. "Right now it's easier for you to send money to the US than it is to send it to another African country. I saw bitcoin as a technology that could really change that."

Bitcoin nodes are fundamental to keeping the bitcoin network functioning: each of them is a physical or virtual machine (a self-contained computer operating system deployed alongside other programmes on a more powerful piece of hardware) running the bitcoin software in conjunction with a stored copy of the blockchain, constantly synced between them in order to maintain a decentralized database of transactions. But though the network may not have a center, certain areas still have a far greater node density: as the below chart from bitcoin mapping site shows, North America and Western Europe have a high concentration, whereas most of Asia, Africa and South America have only a small scattering.

Reported By Gina Kynast