Akon may be most familiar to Americans as the singer of countless hits from the noughties. However, the Sengalese-American artist is much more than a radio earwig. In recent years, he has dedicated himself to using his financial success in ways to better the continent of Africa.
Akon City, Senegal
Yes, the subheading is correct. Akon has finalized a landmark deal to create his own city in his home country of Senegal. As they say, location is everything. A major sign that Akon City is poised to be a success is its proximity to the new Senegalese international airport. Reports state that the 5,000 acre project can be reached after a mere five minute drive. A futuristic city created by an international icon that is so accessible to the world will surely make for a prime tourist destination.
This project is innovative in more ways than one. In order to insulate the new city from political turmoil and volatile economic practices, the entire city will be run on cryptocurrency. The newly minted AKoin will be the foundation of the city’s trade.
Creating A Crypto-City
A “Crypto-city” is an innovative and forward thinking idea. While it may read like a world-building concept from a sci-fi movie, this is actually much more grounded than what one might assume at first glance.
Firstly, the gold-standard has long been extinct in the United States. Money is no longer a tangible concept, as anyone who trades on the stock market can attest. Assets and buying power are seemingly digital at this point. Cash is no longer essential to the transactional equation. The way in which the financial industry was terrified by and then enamored with Bitcoin should tell you as much.
Secondly, having its own cryptocurrency could open up the city, and in turn the country, to more international trade. There are several steps that would need to be taken to achieve this feat, but history has shown that every major global advancement has taken place when international currency exchanges are closer to 1:1.
An article by Stanford Professor, Susan Athey, on the World Economic Forum website goes into much greater detail as to how digital currencies will be revolutionary. She highlights how cryptocurrency can open up international trade and even notes how 60% of Kenya’s commerce takes place using mobile phone credits as a monetary place holder. This is used as a means to protect the owner’s assets. That practice indicates that Akon’s concept could be highly successful while much more sophisticated.
Akon Lighting Africa
Akon City will not be Akon’s first project dealing with African infrastructure. He has been highly successful in such endeavors in the past. The Akon Lighting Africa project has made a major impact in 14 African nations, including Senegal, by harvesting solar energy to install street lamps as well as energy systems.
This project was a major success and has grown significantly since its inception in 2014. In addition to employing 5000 people and providing power/lighting to 600 million Africans, they have created the Solar Academy. The institute is based in Mali and will help develop the solar power movement Akon started.
There is no word yet on how involved Akon Lighting Africa will be with Akon City, but considering the work the group has already done in Senegal and Akon’s influence, it is safe to assume that they will be a major factor in the city’s development.
Quietly Changing the World
Akon’s philanthropic work has been noted by major news outlets in recent years, although seemingly sparingly. While most news outlets focused on political scandals and tabloid fodder — or the blending of both — Akon quietly embarked on a mission to revolutionize his home continent.
I could espouse myriad conspiracy theories as to why his work has not been covered as much as I feel like it should have, but I won’t. I will simply encourage you to share this positive story from the beacon of light that is Akon.