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Tezos Africa and stakefish’s Geographic Decentralization Initiative

Tezos Africa!

Last week stakefish hosted a special call with the Tezos Africa Baker community providing guidance on topics spanning infrastructure, business, and governance. This seminar and open Q&A event has been a part of stakefish’s on-going initiative to promote and support strategic geographic decentralization efforts globally. Members of the Tezos Africa Baker community included Tezos chapters from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Tunisia, and Senegal.

Guidance on best practices for running infrastructure, conducting business/strategy, and governance processes as a Baker on Tezos were provided from stakefish’s long running experience as a professional validator service provider. Questions from the open Q&A spanned general operational plans, security management, server setup, maintenance, delegation and reward management, and governance participation.

You can view the sessions here!

JK’s Business Presentation at 0:00. Daniel’s Protocol and Governance at 17:40.


Geographic Decentralization

The value of promoting strategic decentralization and supporting the Tezos Africa community has been important for the overall robustness and resilience of the Tezos network and establishment of efficient deployment strategies globally.

Decentralization metrics in the PoS validator ecosystem have been varied and understandably viewed with nuance and on a spectrum. There are many ways to view how decentralization can be measured. One measure is the discrete count of existing validators. Another measure is how distributed stake is among the existing set of validators. These have manifested a number of valuable decentralization transparency metrics like the Nakamoto Coefficient score (reminiscent of the Gini Coefficient wealth distribution index and the Lorenz Curve) and breakdowns like the ETH2 Deposit Contract (which the team at Nansen has graciously opened up to the public in support of the ETH2 beaconchain decentralization transparency initiatives).

One key measurement that has often gone neglected has been decentralization around validator reliance on specific hosting platforms running the underlying infrastructure for the validators themselves. Some validators have elected to run bare metal servers to operate while most have operated in a cloud-native.

The robustness of fault tolerant systems within distributed and decentralized networks makes key assumptions about the different nodes and entities that make up the system itself. The key assumption relies on determinations around the nodes/entities having its infrastructure stack independent of other nodes/entities. Attempting to reconcile the decentralization metrics we hold dear to as sufficient from Nakamoto Coefficients and data presenting large discrete validator counts with robust decentralization from the top down will unfortunately find much to be desired.

Cloud service providers (AWS, GCP, Azure, etc) are cost efficient and reliable hosting services to run validators. However, mass reliance on a singular cloud service provider clearly presents concerns about infrastructure centralization risks. As an example, I can present a hypothetical scenario that on the surface presents a nicely decentralized network proven by its Nakamoto Coefficient and discrete validators counts but in actuality may suffer from centralization risks.

Let’s say that a network has a sufficiently low Nakamoto Coefficient score (lower means more distributed and decentralized). Stake is relatively evenly distributed among the many validators in this network. Many operate under the assumption that each and every validator operates their own infrastructure independent of the potential faults of another. If a few validators go down or offline, because we have a great Nakamoto Coefficient, the network should and can tolerate these faults.

However, in this example, let’s say there is a specialised cloud service provider that provides the ideal cost-efficient infrastructure service plans for validators of a network with highly specific requirements that other cloud service providers do not provide out of the box at scale or cost-efficiently. The majority of the validators in this network elect to host and operate their validators with this specialized cloud service provider. If the cloud service provider goes down, the majority of the validators go down with it. This introduces all manners of risk that decentralized blockchains were meant to combat and remove. The remaining minority of validators that have not gone down now have easier collusion opportunities and also must bear the brunt of an entire network.

What was identified as decentralized purely from the numbers and metrics we chose to align ourselves with clearly breaks down in this practical, real-world scenario. It has happened before on a live network and may happen again. There is a clear need for decentralization to exist from the infrastructure stack which has thus spurred stakefish’s involvement in promoting strategic geographic decentralization.

Our Tezos Africa initiative is one step of many in our continued commitment towards improving the robustness of the networks we validate through the promotion of decentralization.

About stakefish

stakefish is the leading validator for Proof of Stake blockchains. With support for 10+ networks, our mission is to secure and contribute to this exciting new ecosystem while enabling our users to stake with confidence. Because our nodes and our team are globally distributed, we are able to maintain 24-hour coverage.










stakefish is the leading validator for Proof of Stake blockchains. With support for 10+ networks, our mission is to secure and contribute to this exciting new ecosystem while enabling our users to stake with confidence.

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