Akon: Shining His Light To Change The Face Of Africa
Today, 600 million Africans still don’t have access to electricity. On the continent, power is inaccessible, unaffordable, and unreliable. For example, Senegal has power but frequently has power outages. According to the World Bank, “this traps people in poverty, clinics cannot refrigerate vaccines, businesses have shorter operating hours, and students find it difficult to read after dark.”
“Giving people the basic necessity like the ability to turn the lights on, is huge. It can change a person’s health tremendously and instantly,” says Dr. P. Gould, an expert in the field of family medicine.
This is the driving force for Grammy-nominated singer and producer Akon’s mission: providing clean electricity to these people. Akon, originally from the US of Senegalese saw the need and went found a way to make it happen. The project, ¨Akon Lighting Africa¨, has a credit line of $1 billion dollars and employs over 5,000 people. Launched officially in 2014, so far work is already underway in 14 different countries.
Akon and Thione Niang, the co-founders of Akon Lighting Africa with Samba Bathily, both grew up in Kaolack, Senegal, a town without electricity. It is their childhood memories and personal experience of a “life without light” that fuels their commitment.
“When I was young, we had to study by candle light with only one candle for the entire family. I want to make sure that children no longer have to work in those conditions.”
They began discussing what they could do to actively help drive Africa’s transformation in September 2013 in Washington DC. A few weeks later, they agreed that the top priority was to invest in energy, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas, because this was the essential foundation for everything else – education, health and economic development.
Their plan came to life once they were joined by Samba Bathily, an entrepreneur from Mali specializing in…