The Africa Free Routing initiative is a non-profit Bitcoin Lightning node run by African Bitcoiners with the objective of positioning Africa as a prominent player in the lightning payments landscape. The profits generated from operating lightning nodes will be channeled towards advancing Bitcoin education in Africa.
The initial objective of the initiative is to establish a lightning node in every country in Africa. However, the initiative aims to establish nodes in every city across the continent.
A lightning node is a computer server that enables faster and cheaper transactions on the Lightning Network by facilitating off-chain payments and creating payment channels between users.
[…] when African Bitcoiners looked at the lightning network map of Africa, it was notably dark, and so we created Africa Free Routing to change that. We want to light up the African continent with the lightning network and in the process give Africans the fastest and most reliable payment experience.
Find out more: What’s the Lightning Network?
The transmission of data across the earth typically takes around 50 milliseconds, which is the duration of a lightning payment. However, when the payment has to traverse multiple destinations, the cumulative time delay becomes significant. Currently, most lightning payments in Africa follow an indirect route across the globe, leading to inadequate customer experiences that will only deteriorate as transaction volumes increase. To overcome this challenge, the Africa Free Routing initiative aims to establish lightning hubs within the African continent, which will enhance the efficiency and speed of payments, and thereby enhance the overall customer experience.
Why Free Routing?
Due to the fact that customers are not accustomed to paying transaction fees, even minimal lightning fees can be perceived as an additional cost to them, which previously rested with the merchant. Although the charging of routing fees by others is acceptable, the Africa Free Routing initiative believes that by providing a free routing service and selling channels, a portion of this cost can be kept with the merchant. This, in turn, aims to maintain a fast and inexpensive buying experience for the customer, ultimately contributing to the widespread adoption of lightning technology.
Lightning Nodes in Africa
Currently, the initiative runs the followings lightning nodes, which you can connect to:
Africa Free Routing
Africa Free Routing was the first node and is the largest Africa focused node on the global Lightning Network. Because of its scale and some very special African logistical challenges, this node is currently hosted with Voltage in Portland, USA. It has 125 channels.
Nigeria Free Routing
Nigeria Free Routing is the first clearnet lightning node in Lagos, Nigeria and is the biggest node hosted on the African continent. It has 33 channels.
Ghana Free Routing
Ghana Free Routing is the newest node in the network, which is hosted in Accra, Ghana. It has 2 channels.
African Bitcoiners is a community of Africans, who believe that Bitcoin has the potential to uplift Africa.