Celebrity entertainer and multi-platinum hip hop artist, Akon has been largely missing from the spotlight recently, but it may be because he has been working very hard behind the scenes on an initiative, Lighting Africa, that will bring electricity to millions of households in Africa using solar power. In addition, Lighting Africa will support the creation of a solar academy in Mali, to train and develop a cadre of future entrepreneurs and engineers that will respond to the power needs on the continent.
With a site that offers a clean and crisp interface, the team’s mission is clear. “This professional training center of excellence is a first on the continent and targets future African entrepreneurs, engineers and technicians,” says the press release on Lighting Africa’s website. “It aims to reinforce expertise in every aspect of installing and maintaining solar-powered electric systems and microgrids in particular, which are really taking off in rural Africa.”
Along with co-founders Samba Bathily and Thione Niang, Akon is partnering with Solektra International, CJI, Give 1 Project, Ads Global Corp. & Sumec to provide the skills and competencies required for a project of this scope. An American of Senegalese descent, Akon grew up in Senegal, West Africa, a place which he calls home. It is no surprise that he is invested in giving back to the continent by providing clean, efficient energy to households.
The potential for renewable energy development in Africa is gradually receiving global attention, as investors and entrepreneurs seek the benefits of clean energy. While studies report evidence of the continent’s potential in engaging strategies that enhance the use of clean energy resources, Africa has benefited the least among all continents from Clean Development Mechanism projects — greenhouse gas-reducing initiatives that industrialized countries can support as a way to compensate for their excess emissions.
With Akon’s investment in Africa, the future is bright indeed.
Image: Lighting Africa