Congo: fixing the Austrian

I open the throttle, but the thump of the 640cc cylinder doesn’t save me. The bike skids into the mud. I pick up the bike, kickstart and try to get going, but the rear wheel spins and Kotilda doesn’t move more than an inch. I try pulling back and it moves an inch, no more. The reason I crashed wasn’t just my incompetence – my front wheel is stuck. Read More

Gabon: arbeit is for others

The time spent in the workshop with Deleure, my favourite South African mechanic, presented an opportunity to learn about life in Gabon. Deleure had moved here for work. Salaries in Gabon are 3 times what they are back home for him. His workshop was surrounded by million dollar superboats, jetskis, quads. I quizzed, who are the rich folks in Gabon? Apparently 90% of GDP is controlled by 20% of the population. He explained it is mostly the Lebanese, who own the mines inland and have some stake in oil production.
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Libreville: aluminium is weak

Eleven months have passed, but Africa didn’t miss us. It is the same hustle and bustle, as if we just woke up another day. The roadwork that last time we thought was just paused for the weekend was still in exactly the same state. The arrival reminded that the brain remembers selectively and romanticises the past. The heat. There was no recollection of the unrelenting humid heat that doesn’t stop in the night. I fail to comprehend how do they bother to wake up in Congo and for years go shooting at each other in this sauna, rather than find a shady mango tree and tough out the heat.
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Prologue to stage 3: Gabon-Namibia

Months before our wedding, my then-future parents in law asked us where would we like to go on a honeymoon. I didn’t have to think for a blink – the answer was DR Congo. Well we had to go to Hawaii instead, t’was okay.

Now starting stage 3 of our African expedition. On Thursday we shall be reunited with our bikes that have spent 11 months in a makeshift shed we built on a parking lot in Libreville, Gabon. We’ll be heading to the Congo river basin in the footsteps of the apocalypse, on to the plains of Angola and hopefully hitting the deserts of Namibia in January. Read More

Euro 2.0 weekends

Can money exist without a banking system? “Sure,” say the bitcoin enthusiasts. But can we have the same kind of money that we’re used to – euros, dollars, yenis? The invention of smart contracts makes it a practical opportunity.

We are half-way through building a proof of concept for a tech savvy country to run a bankless monetary system in parallel with the traditional one. A few friends put together the infrastructure using Estonian ID system over a weekend, we’re now planning for a second iteration and you’re welcome to join if you believe you can help.

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The future of money may be in the ether

Two years ago I got very excited by the idea that it will be possible to decentralise the handling of money in my small country Estonia. I’m not talking about geeky bitcoins, but the real Euros. I wrote this blogpost, chatted with bitcoin people this and the other side of the Atlantic. At the time it certainly felt do-able, but needed quite a bit of technical and cryptographic wizardry.

Now we have the Ethereum programmable blockchain. It took me a couple of hours on a Saturday morning to successfully implement a central mint and a monetary system using a public recipe, together with necessary enforcement controls to tackle money laundering and other bad things.

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