Bitcoin builder climbs Africa’s tallest mountain to raise awareness

A Bitcoin (BTC) educator based in Tanzania has scaled Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro, financing the entire trip through Bitcoin and Nostr donations.

Kweks (not his real name) crowdfunded over $1,700 in Bitcoin (0.0018 BTC) to cover the costs of the hike, which doubled as an announcement for a new Bitcoin education academy in Tanzania.

Kweks and his wife recently moved to a new city in Tanzania to open a learning center called the “Proof of Work Academy,” or POWA. Kweks told Cointelegraph that while POWA is a pun on Bitcoin’s consensus protocol, proof-of-work, it also refers to the Zwahili word “Poah,” which means fresh or cool.

To promote the new school and subtly hint at his affinity for decentralized protocols, including Bitcoin and Nostr (Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relay), Kweks funded the ascent to nearly 6,000 meters in Satoshis or “Sats” (a satoshi is a unit of a bitcoin, equal to 100 millionth of a bitcoin).

Bitcoin Lightning Network donations streamed in from all around the world via crowdfunding on Geyser Fund and through Zapraising, or Bitcoin Lightning Network crowdfunding via NOSTR, (also called Zaps.)

Kweks carried and waved a giant Nostr flag while sharing status updates throughout the multi-day hike on X, Nostr and WhatsApp. Speaking from Tanzania, Kweks explained to Cointelegraph that while the money raised was meaningful to cover the costs of getting into the National Park, the impact was primarily educational:

“I thought it [the ascent] would be a great case study to show what Bitcoin can do and then introduce some people to Bitcoin as well.”

The ascent demonstrated to his local community that a global base of Nostriches (users of Nostr), and generous Bitcoin advocates around the world were happy to support Kweks’ climb and educational work on the ground in Tanzania.

Plus, Kweks received a tip from one of the guides leading the party to the summit of “Kili”, as it’s known locally, showing that there is grassroots Bitcoin adoption in Tanzania.

There is, evidently, some understanding of Bitcoin in Tanzania, Kweks explained—but one of the key challenges is “offramps,” into local currency. The likes of Coinbase, Kraken, and Gemini do not operate in Tanzania, so swapping cash for Bitcoin and vice versa can be challenging.

Over the course of the hike, Kweks received questions and curious comments from Tanzanians about how he funded the adventure as well as the inevitable query, “What is Bitcoin?”.

Ultimately, Bitcoin adoption in Tanzania is very different from the United Kingdom, where Kweks spent 25 years of his life prior to moving to Tanzania.

Related: Hashing It Out: What happens when crypto meets fintech in Africa?

There is, he explains, more of a barter system in place in East Africa. It can be a challenge to explain money and hyperinflation and the reasons why a currency with a programmed inflation rate, such as Bitcoin could offer an alternative economic system to society.

“When I arrived in Tanzania ten years ago, $1 was 1500 hundred Tanzanian Shillings. As of today, [$1 equals] 2600. That’s ten years later. It’s crazy!”

Ultimately, the key to unlocking Bitcoin education is to use terms relevant to people: “I do speak to them about how much bread is going up and how much fuel is going up, and they understand that,” Kweks explained.

“They see that it’s harder to make ends meet. So with these concepts, they understand that Bitcoin the tool can help them—and that’s the work. That’s the work that needs to be shared and explored.”

Kweks continues to post and share educational resources on Nostr and X, while the educational resource POWA offers free educational classes to Tanzanians based near Kilimanjaro.

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