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The park leverages renewable energy for its Bitcoin mining which started during the lockdown in 2020.

Virunga National Park, one of the oldest national parks in DR Congo and Africa, is mining Bitcoin (BTC) to generate self-sustaining revenue following a decline in funds triggered by terrorism and outbreaks of diseases. The park began its BTC mining initiative as far back as 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Having been introduced to BTC mining by Sébastien Gouspillou – co-founder and CEO of Bigblock Data Center, a BTC mining farm – workers at the Virunga National Park, started leveraging electricity from the resident hydroelectric power station within the park to mine the firstborn crypto, according to an article by MIT Technology Review today.

The park’s local mining facility has 10 containers, with 3 belonging to the park, and 7 to Gouspillou. Funds realized from the park’s containers go into settling the salaries of park workers, supporting the park’s infrastructure, and funding wildlife conservation. However, Gouspillou’s containers generate proceeds for him and his team, but he pays the park for the electricity provided.

The initiative became especially necessary following a decline in revenue due to several factors, including terror attacks and diseases. Tourism within the park was put on hold due to killings and kidnappings of tourists by rebels in 2018. The situation was further exacerbated by the Ebola virus breakout of 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Park-generated revenue slumped, as tourism accounted for 40% of the funds.

Having begun mining in September 2020, the park started making up for the decline through sales of mined tokens. With the crypto bull market that followed, BTC mining began generating as much revenue as tourism did for the park at its highest level. The park also started accepting donations in BTC in April 2021. In addition, following much exposure in the country, the government of DR Congo also disclosed plans to adopt crypto last year.

Oppositions to the Initiative 

Despite the prevalent crypto bear market further worsened by the Terra and FTX fiascos, Emmanuel de Merode, the park’s National Director, disclosed that profits are still coming in. Some individuals are opposed to the mining facility notwithstanding its favorable outcome in terms of revenue generation. Notably, Dr. Pete Howson, Assistant Professor at Northumbria University, argues that the park’s renewable energy should be used for “something useful,” not Bitcoin mining. Political ecologist Esther Marijnen is also against the initiative.

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