Akon is Bringing Electricity to Africa!
If we asked you what you know about Akon, you might be able to tell us that he is an award-winning R&B and Hip Hop star. But what you might not know is that he has spent the last couple of years trying to bring electricity to a part of the world that is shrouded in darkness when the sun goes down – Africa.
Of course, Akon hasn’t been going it alone. Together with Thione Niang and entrepreneur Samba Bathily, Akon launched a company that aims to bring electricity to the 600 million people across some of Africa’s poorest and most rural countries.
According to Akon Lighting Africa’s website, around 80% of the world has access to electricity, but only 30% of the African population enjoys the benefits.
The company only launched in February of last year. However, in the short amount of time since then, solar energy has brought light and other electric “luxuries” – such as street lights – to 14 countries in Africa so far. For the first time ever, houses and villages, health centres and schools, have all been connected to electricity.
And because electricity has been introduced to these places, a number of job opportunities have opened up in those communities. These jobs are particularly important for the younger people and vary from installations to maintenance.
Akon Lighting Africa has been looking into more ways of bringing electricity to more people, and they announced their latest plans to do this just a couple of weeks ago. The aim is to enable the African people to help themselves and each other by opening a solar academy in Bamako, the capital Mali.
Mr Bathily said that there is both enough sun and technology to bring electricity to everyone. “[But] we are doing more than just investing in clean energy,” he pointed out. “We are investing in human capital; we can achieve great milestones.”
The solar academy is a training centre that will be opening this summer, enabling people to learn about solar power and how to make the most of the 320 days of sun a year the continent experiences.
People who attend the academy well learn how to maintain solar-powered electricity systems and microgrids, which are small power grids that can operate independently. These types of systems have been growing quickly in Africa and are a great way of harnessing the continent’s natural resources.
One of the founders of Akon Lighting Africa, Mr Niang, explained that the hope is for people who graduate from the academy to be able to come up with their own innovative technical solutions.
“With this academy,” he concluded, “we can capitalise on Akon Lighting Africa and go further.”
Alongside their sister company Solektra International, Akon Lighting Africa are slowly shedding light (and electricity) on Africa.