Lights, Akoin, and a City!

MIGUELCA / SHUTTERSTOCK

Senegalese-American musician and entrepreneur, Akon, who some would agree would not be out of place claiming some of the credit for the taking the diaspora’s focus on Africa to new levels through the power of his celebrity and his hugely publicised initiative, Akon Lighting Africa, a project that has supplied solar-powered solutions to 18 communities on the continent to date.

With the success of Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’, the artist-cum-businessman, backed by the Senegalese government, is now exploring the opportunities that investment in tourism could bring to the continent.

The Senegalese government is already facilitating the artist to achieve his latest dream through state-owned tourism company SAPCO who signed a deal with the R&B star on Tuesday to build a sustainable tourism village that would “campaign for the environment”.

The tourism ministry statement released before the ceremony read, “Beyond his status as an artist, it is Akon, the investor who believes in Africa (signing up to the agreement).”

According to the SAPCO Secretary-General Aliune Ndiaye, the deal signed by the artist is a memorandum of understanding, but the size of the future investment is still not clear.

Ndiaye added that the R&B star has already hit the road running with his plans to build a complex in the seaside village of Mbodiene, about 120 kilometres south of the capital Dakar.

The rapper has a sentimental attachment to the West African country having spent most of his childhood in the country until he was 7 when he moved to the US, where his talent was realised.

In 2018, Akon launched AKoin, a cryptocurrency named after him as a central form of exchange. It is believed that his plan is to popularise the currency which is playing a critical role in his plan to build a futuristic Crypto City on a 2,000-acre land gifted to him by the President of Senegal, Macky Sall.

“I think that blockchain and crypto could be the saviour for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people,” Akon said at an event held in the French city of Cannes.

“Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology offers a more secure currency that enables people in Africa to advance themselves independent of the government.”

The global icon, whose real name is Aliaume Thiam, and known for his R&B hits such as “Lonely” and “I Wanna Love You” said of ‘Akon City’, “It’s a 10-year building block, so we’re doing it in stages. We started construction in March [2019], and stage two is going to be 2025”.