By Jordan J. Hill –Blackdoctor.org
Today, 600 million Africans still don’t have access to electricity. There, 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 people’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 fourteen 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 solar energy. Not only did he share Akon and Thione Niang’s beliefs, he was also able to provide targeted solutions through his company, Solektra INT, which supplies solar-powered equipment. By combining their networks and international experience and expertise, the three men launched this ambitious project in February 2014, with a view to supporting African growth as well as the empowerment of African youth.
Since then, the three founders have put everything into the project, negotiating win-win partnerships with African States and continuing to extend this initiative and amplify its impact.
Akon plans to solve what he calls an “energy crisis” through different projects. Believe it or not, he is utilizing free energy to achieve this. Energy from the sun. For one, there will be solar powered steet lamps installed to improve visibility in the darkness of the night. For peoples’ homes, he will have electric indigo systems installed. Also there will be solar micro generators installed. Not only will Africa begin to “light up”, but this project also create numerous jobs, primarily employing the youth for installation and maintenance purposes.
But it doesn’t stop there. At the second United Nations Sustainable Energy for All forum, Akon announced the creation of a Solar Academy. This will instill the importance and develop skills in the production and use of solar energy. Consequently, Africans in these countries can develop their own ideas and solutions that were not thought of previously. Furthermore, in turn, these students can spread the knowledge and continue acheiving Akon’s goal.
Clearly Akon wants to acheive this as soon as possible. At the beginning of the week, Akon started what he calls “9 days, 9 countries, and 9 presidents,” which includes Malia, Gambia, Burnika Faso, and Senegal.