A rapper-singer named Damala Badara Akon Thiam may not ring a bell in your mind at first because you know him as Pop superstar ‘Akon.’ He is the Senegalese singer who brought the world Lady Gaga and T-Pain, as well as performed hit-songs “Smack That” and “Lonely.” Today, he is a different person in the spotlight however. He is ‘the light’ of Africa some might say. The music mogul has been in Africa working on his solar power initiative to provide light for as much as the earth’s largest continent as possible. This week his Akon Lighting Africa initiative provided light to one African country and inked a deal to begin on another, Gambia and Cape Verde.
“I want to leave a legacy,” said Akon to AFP news in the capital of Gambia, Banjul. He spoke on what inspires him to do such work in the motherland continent.
He continued, “Africans work harder in everything and they work harder to live and to sustain themselves.”
Sareh Pateh, a Gambian village of an estimated 4000 people, turned on solar street lights for the first time this past Sunday. The local mosque and pharmacy to provide people with medicine through night hours were also provided lighting. Gambians were excited for the change.
Giving Gambians time to adjust to the night time solar power grids and observe effects, Akon Lighting Africa is moving on to another city. They are now focused on the Cape Verde capital city, Praia. The singer met with CV’s Economy Minister Jose Goncalves to discuss solar lighting plans according to DailyMail.
Akon held a press conference on the island where he answered questions of journalists and said his group’s identified Cape Verde’s capital as more than a place to provide lighting but also a city great for investing. The Pop culture star also made it clear that Praia was next on the list to receive eco-friendly, solar power panels for lighting the less developed areas of the city.
In total Akon has 19 projects in his plans thus far. Many nations are standing behind the singer’s Akon Lighting Africa initiative, whom met in Guinea this past Saturday to raise funds and help. Akon already convinced international banks to loan his ‘ALA’ group nearly a full $1-billion-dollars to cover the costs of lighting up Africa, but he still has a small percentage not yet funded .
According to the official website, The money has been used not only to provide lighting but also other opportunities including University training for staff of the website and media team, business group, solar lighting company.
Those wishing to learn about solar lighting and join the movement to help empower Africa are not just given a tuition reimbursement by Akon’s project. The students looking to learn and join Solar Akon Lighting Africa are now attending a university started by the pop star, ‘Solektra Solar Academy [ see school website].’ .
More great news from the roots of Hip Hop culture this week. Akon is helping provide $1-billion-dollars in lighting and education to Africa and Chance the Rappper donated $1-million-dollars to Chicago Public Schools [ read here ].