eosAfrica wants to apply block production rewards to fund the deployment an eos.io full node at each African university, that has a computer science department.
“SEEN from space, Africa at night is unlit—as dark as all-but empty Siberia. With nearly 1 billion people, Africa accounts for over a sixth of the world's population, but generates only 4% of global electricity. Three-quarters of that is used by South Africa, Egypt and the other countries along the north African littoral.” - The Economist, August 2007.
While acknowledging its source, this particular quote from The Economist is not easy to dispute. While much progress had been made since its publication, the argument for its relevance can still be sustained. There is, however, another more insidious problem that is not articulated by this quote. When the generation capacity is resolved, the distribution becomes the resulting challenge. Following bulk distribution, the issue then becomes last mile connectivity. Africa is a vast geographical landscape, and in many respects needs attention to be given to infrastructure such as roads, water etc. At the present day these problems are being attended to and, as indicated before, there is progress but over 44 percent of the people in the continent still do not have an electrical connection.
This matter of last mile connectivity becomes even clearer when we look at the telecommunications landscape on the continent. Africa competes adequately when it comes to the number and size of data cables landing on her shores but fibre and other high-speed connectivity technologies do lack in deployment when referenced to other regions of the globe.
This prevailing pattern persists even in hyperscale data center deployments. A cursory reading of the top 6 global data center companies reveals that, at the time of writing, none of them have a deployment on the African continent. It is safe to assume that these omissions are as a result of underdeveloped profit prospects.
More pertinently, this pattern is replicated on the node count of the major blockchain networks like bitcoin and ethereum. Of the 10,000 active bitcoin nodes on bitnodes, Africa accounts for less than 25. On ethereum, Africa accounts for less than 0.5 percent of nodes that have been deployed.
It is clear that a cascading pattern has formed. There is a repeatable and predictable lagging of the African continent on issues of the physical infrastructure that underpins new technologies. By consequence, economic participation and prosperity suffer.
Our argument is that the African population is large enough to create and have, within itself, a good number of engineers who can contribute in pushing the blockchain and related technologies forward. For eos.io, if this pattern holds it may very well mean that, especially at dapp development, there are some cultural subtleties that may be missed; and that may result in a lack of adoption in the continent.
Although eosAfrica offers no proof that the above problems are linked, one only has to rely on common sense to come to the conclusion that these are related. Our argument by use of the anecdotes is that, if left unattended, any technological innovation will follow this pattern. We believe that if no effort is expanded to ensure that eos.io does not fulfill this pattern, this pattern will indeed repeat itself on the eos.io blockchain.
At eosAfrica, we are making the avoidance of the repeat of this pattern on the eos.io platform, our raison d'être.
Our proposed solution
We think that universities across the continent should be the central points for blockchain adoption and development on the continent. African universities are, however, not immune to various developmental challenges that are in existence in the continent. For this reason, it may not be easy for most computer science departments to motivate for spending on a technology that is still fledgling while there are more pressing matters to be funded.
The thought leaders of the future congregate at university campuses. These individuals will later migrate to roles of engineer, analyst, CTO etc of businesses. Naturally, these people will gravitate towards technology they are comfortable with; it is essential that eos.io becomes one of the key software that they experiment with. To this end, we will work to sponsor activities that ensure the African continent has enough future engineers experimenting with eos.io software.
Basic computer infrastructure for eos.io full node;
Postgraduate academic programs. With a special focus on blockchain and dpos, with emphasis on the production of relevant academic papers on software engineering, blockchain governance, and law;
Shared university infrastructure. With a focus on computer laboratories;
Dpos and eos.io book authorship.
Should eosAfrica be elected as a block producer on the main chain, we pledge to perform the tasks listed below. Our ability to execute will be dictated to by the eos.io token price and as a base assumption, we are using $20 token price. That allows us to approximate a budget of 30,000 USD per year per university. At an average $20 token price we commit to cover 15 universities within a year.
As a bare minimum, eosAfrica will help sponsor the deployment of the following hardware and activities at all of the participating African universities : -
- 16 core processor
- 256Gb memory
- 1 TB 3D Crosspoint memory
- 3 TB SSD
- 10 TB SATA
Network switch and router;
Monthly internet subscription (if not available);
A server cabinet.
We have developed the following table to guide our expectations, represented on an annual basis:-
For the basic computing infrastructure, it is possible to start the deployments without much delay after the designated token price has been reached. For the other initiatives, sustainability becomes important - we are determined to avoid adverse effects from token price, as we strive to provide reliable and effective services. So, there will be a lag from the time the token price reaches a threshold amount to the time we onboard an activity.
For instance, before we sponsor a student’s academic program, we must ensure there is enough funding to cover the entire program.
The benefits of the eosAfrica approach to the eos.io ecosystem are the following :
ALL nodes deployed will be endpoints for eos.io ecosystem;
Promote the addition of dpos and eos.io to university curricula;
Education for dpos and eos.io blockchain engineers and dapp developers;
A proliferation of blockchain academia leading to a better regional representation of arbitrator;
EOS postgraduate programs;
Bootstrapping of the continental IPFS layer;
Because these sponsorships will be a public good, this may help smooth the blockchain conversations with governments of different jurisdictions.
One salient benefit that will stem from the ones already listed above: a participating university will become a hub for meetups, conferences, hackathons and all other self-organizing activities that propagate the adoption of a technology.
In our organizational structure, we have created a role for an Academia Liaison Officer. The role of this person would be to recruit, onboard and be the main interface in helping universities with any blockchain related matters. Ideally, this individual has an intermediate academic industry background.
Monitoring and reporting
When deployed, all hardware become the property of the university. We will, however, instantiate all deployments with a contract that stipulates usage boundaries. Currently, this is still an area of discussion amongst ourselves, so we may add to this policy. Although not immediately within the scope of this communication, it is important to take notice that eosAfrica is imminently and actively experimenting with ideas on-site engineering and developer operations for block producers and full nodes. We have formed an opinion that some of the policy solutions will find expression in that aspect of our work. Other policy decisions include:-
- As a buffer from cryptocurrency volatility, we will set up a separate fiat bank account for this project. We will also be transparent with the account and we will publish monthly reports on the state of the funds and project deliveries;
- From our website map.eosio.africa, we will provide a geographical account of all the eos.io nodes we deploy and their respective functionalities and state. The full nodes will also be made visible to node mapping sites such as eos.io version of https://bitnodes.earn.com/;
- All the hardware that we deploy will have eos.io and eosAfrica insignia on its covers. For instance, the server bezel and rack doors will be labeled;
- As we deploy, we will ensure adequate press releases on social media, university media, and local news outlets. This will further entrench brand eos.
eosAfrica does not exist to solve Africa's developmental issues. We do, however, subscribe to the view that a blockchain like eos.io is an attempt at rebuilding the internet. We believe in an approach towards empowering Africa for the next technological revolution and will work towards educating and illuminating our continent. For the next decade, we think that blockchain and other distributed consensus mechanisms will become an intense area of study and contestation.
Blockchain technology is a competently reorganizing invention. On the other hand, universities are the most potent tool that humanity has for the production of new knowledge and, the adoption and entrenchment of new ideas. Any technology that seeks to re-organize human societies must have a very solid footing at the place where knowledge is produced.
This is the first edition of a three-part weekly series that will be introducing eosAfrica to the eos.io community. On this first edition, wanted to address the question of WHY we exist. The second post will shed more light on the composition of the eosAfrica team. The third will be a declaration and the architecture of the technology we will be deploying in time for launch.