Users of Bitcoin ( , BTC), are moving more to the Lightning Network and stablecoins in Africa as transaction fees have risen to their highest level for about two years.

The lightning network was built to speed up the Bitcoin network.

Some people said that many across the continent already use these tools and are not concerned about the fees. However, they have noticed an increase in instability even with wallets using the Lightning network.

Due to the increased fees, customers have shifted their demand. “Customers prefer moving their transactions via stablecoins such as USDT while folks with low volume transactions prefer lightning network transactions instead of base layer transactions,” Heritage Falodun said, founder of Africa’s over-the counter liquidity provider Digioats.

Read more: Binance resumes Bitcoin withdrawals after second pause, says it’s adjusting fees and integrating Lightning Network

The dramatic rise in transaction fees can be attributed at least partly to the introduction of ordinals, a protocol that allows the creation of BRC-20 tokens associated with certain memecoins on the Bitcoin network.

The daily users of bitcoin, such as those who make cross-border payments or remittances, have been severely affected, according to Lorraine Marcel. She is a Kenyan-based Bitcoin DADA founder, working on a project aimed at educating women in Africa about the crypto. She said that the majority of Africans are not familiar with Lightning Network and that “most educators prefer to onboard newbies onto unchain network because it offers self-custody.”

Mary Imasuen of the Bitcoin Gamer Chat podcast, based in Lagos, Nigeria, says that while the transaction fees in absolute terms may be small for those in the West it is a burden to Africans with weak economies.

The traders are also affected. In an interview with CoinDesk, Kgothatso from Machankura wallet said that “most exchanges in Africa do not yet have lightning… many traders are still waiting on transactions made three days ago to be confirmed… while] some trades cost too much to settle.”

Lightning nodes also face difficulties. Imasuen said that the bitcoin fees have increased the cost of opening a channel with the node. She said that the cost was not insignificant from the perspective of Africans, whose currency is devaluing constantly.

This could ultimately lead to less network decentralization. This could lead to a greater centralization of the network, as fewer “everyday” people will be able “to run effective nodes, without using a well-funded LSP [lighting services provider]”, said Nikolai Tjongarero. He is the founder of EasySats, BTC Mining Namibia, and Bitcoin Educator.

Lightning hiccups

Even those who already use the Lightning network are experiencing difficulties due to a congestion of transactions or a lack of liquidity across service providers.

Hermann Vivier is the chairman of South African Bitcoin Ekasi. The startup wants to create a bitcoin circular economy. “I was forced to use four different lightning wallets because the channel liquidity between wallet providers dried up.”

Kgothatso said that users of the Muun wallet who use both lightning and bitcoin layers for processing transactions have paid high fees. This is especially true when they pay at the South African retailer Pick N Pay. Kgothatso said that the Muun wallet is expensive because of congestion on the mempool. Users are responsible for the costs.

Mempools act as waiting rooms for bitcoin transaction. In the past couple of days these have become clogged with about 400,000 transactions awaiting processing at certain times. Muun estimates its fees based on the state of the mempool. With more congestion, the fee has increased.

The reverse side

Many in Africa, despite all of these problems, see the fee increase as a potential net benefit to adoption. It will supercharge the move towards Lightning network integration and alternative solutions.

Marcel “hopes” that the increase in fees “is only temporary,” but said that it’s “an eye-opener.”

Vivier said that it was a good thing in a sense, because it forced people to use lightning… despite any short-term inconvenience.

Read more: Bitcoin’s BRC-20 Explosion Sends Users Scrambling For Options, Including Lightning

Stephen Alpher edited the book.