Mining titles are usually filled with mentions of North America and Asiawith occasional mentions of Latin America. But another region of the world is showing unnoticed signs of continued interest in the mining sector.
This article explores some data that shows African nations’ interest in mining and profiles a few companies known to be mining in the region, all contextualized by Africa’s widely reported general interest in Bitcoin. as a plausible precursor to a booming mining industry.
Data on Bitcoin mining in Africa
Google Trends is among the most frequently cited datasets in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency circles to demonstrate interest, shifts in sentiment, and various market conditions. The reliability and accuracy of this data is never perfect, but it often reflects reality.
So who researches the most on bitcoin mining?
The answer is several African countries, according to Google Trends at the time of writing. These data were also noticed by the mining research team at Compass Mining nearly a year ago, and it’s still true today.
Here are the top 10 countries class By regional search interest in bitcoin mining in the past year:
- South Africa
But is this data important? US search data, for example, offers a little more color on Google Trends data that may reflect some real-world mining industry realities. After limiting to searches made in the United States, Google Trends shows Wyoming as the top ranked location for bitcoin mining queries. And, in fact, the state is one of the largest and fastest growing mining centers in the United States, suggesting that Google Trends data reflects legitimate industry action.
Status quo of bitcoin mining in Africa
Despite the interest in the topic, most signs point to African countries collectively accounting for a small percentage of Bitcoin’s total hash rate. Data collection by the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, for example, claim that no African country contributes more than 0.14% to Bitcoin’s hash rate. This amount apparently comes from Egypt, the largest hash rate contributor in the region. This data set is notoriously problembut in general, mining activity throughout the region is relatively low.
Mining in Africa is nonetheless ongoing and growing. BigBlock DC is an excellent example of a mining company operating in the region. He shared Pictures and videos of installation constructions to Twitter. Also there are reports off-grid solar mining operations in Zimbabwe. And a Ghanaian IT company claimed to have boosted the region’s first mining operation by 2016.
Africa’s Potential to Fuel Bitcoin Mining
Few things excite Bitcoin miners more than cheap and abundant energy. Given Africa’s potential future as a regional mining hub, its abundant energy resources are essential. Here is an overview.
African countries have some of the the biggest untapped potential for large-scale hydropower development around the world. It’s already the region’s main source of ‘clean’ energy, and planned developments mean it shows no signs of slowing down.
Africa also has more potential solar resources than any other continent, although solar energy development is not widespread or significant. A study found that a solar power plant covering 0.3% North Africa could provide all the energy needed to supply the European Union.
Flare gas is also a strong contender as an energy source for African mining activity. Angola, for example, has already sought ways to monetize its gas flaring activity and is the second crude producer in the region.
Nuclear energy is one of the rarest forms of energy in Africa. Out of 54 countries in the region, only South Africa has operational nuclear facilities. South Africa currently generates over 10 billion kilowatt hours (KWh) of baseload electricity at the Koeberg nuclear power station in Cape Town. Bitcoin miners and the nuclear power industry are quickly building strong relationships, and I hope this trend will spread to Africa to catalyze more nuclear development.
Beyond Bitcoin Mining
Mining aside, Africa’s leading role in the growing use of bitcoin around the world is no secret. A steady stream of headlines over the past few years in particular have highlighted the region’s renewed interest in Bitcoin from investors, developers, traders and other users. For instance:
- Paxful CEO Ray Youssef says Africa is “first“Cryptocurrency Adoption
- Square CEO Jack Dorsey says Africa “will define the future” from bitcoin
- Programs like Qala recruit and train bitcoin developers
- Even the UN has noticed Use of bitcoin and cryptography in Africa
- Central African Republic has been the second country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender
- Kenya has one of the highest per capita levels possession of bitcoinsaccording to a memorandum from the UN
Widespread interest in buying and using bitcoin usually also precedes strong interest in bitcoin mining. China, the United States, and parts of Latin America, for example, have always been geographic leaders in bitcoin investment and usage, and it’s no coincidence that these regions are also leaders in commercial and industrial scale mining. While this doesn’t necessarily explain all of the apparent interest in mining from various African countries, people who want bitcoin also tend to want to learn how to mine it.
Mining: The natural leg of the Bitcoin journey in Africa
At the risk of repeating the obvious, much of this article is speculative analysis based on a few statistical and anecdotal signals of mining growth across Africa. It is difficult to know for sure if or when parts of this region will become the next Texas Where Kazakhstan for the mining sector.
But what is certain is that existing mining activity is not slowing down and a sustained level of general curiosity about mining is being seen in Google search queries. And, of course, the region’s general interest in understanding, using, and building with Bitcoin has been widely reported.
Given Africa’s enthusiasm for bitcoin and its abundant and diverse energy resources, mining is a natural step in the story arc of bitcoin in the region. The future of bitcoin in Africa is undoubtedly bright, and mining could play a prominent role in it.
This is a guest post by Zack Voell. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.