Always one to surprise, Senegalese born music superstar Akon, seems set to make his biggest impact across the continent yet, as his electric power initiative - Lighting Africa - gears up to bring affordable, reliable electricity to 1 million African homes. (continues below... )
The Lighting Africa project was born of the need to unlock Africa's massive economic potential, trapped in its over 600 million people without electricity, or a nighttime economy, and who suffer grossly diminished productivity – not to mention a poor quality of life. Designed to be inclusive and sustainable, the project provides solar power through microgrid systems to rural communities, which are usually far from power grids.
To tackle this challenge, the initiative and its partners have secured about $1 billion in credit, with which they partner with interested Governments, discover their areas of urgent need and their budgets, then extend a 3 to 5 year asset financing, with its established network of technology and financial partners, including the trio's own solar company Solektra, to help those countries meet their implementation needs.
Speaking at the 2015 UN Climate Change conference, Akon says:
“Our initial aim was to impact a million homes, but now we’re in 15 east-African countries. Not having electricity growing up and then going to the US where I got used to having clean water and light and visiting my family in Africa only to see that not much has changed within a span of 20 years or so is really what inspired me to begin this initiative,”
Founded in 2014 by the trio of Akon, political activist Thione Niang, and Malian entrepreneur Samba Bathily, Lighting Africa projects now provide electricity in 15 African countries, employing over 5,000 mainly young people who install and maintain solar equipment. The group also plans to launch a Solar Academy on the 15th of December, to train students, and trainers in solar power technologies.
Born Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Bongo Puru Nacka Badara Akon Thiam, Akon is an accomplished rapper, songwriter, record producer and businessman. He rose to fame with the release of "Locked Up" -- the first single from his debut album "Trouble", in 2004. Akon owns the music record labels, Konvict Muzik and Kon Live Distribution, and is increasingly popular for promoting African talent in the U.S, as well as his recent involvements in film.