Grammy nominated hip hop recording artist, Akon recognized for his 2004 hit “Locked Up” has partnered with Give1Project and ADS Global Corporation SA to create the Akon Lighting Africa Project. This project aims to bring electricity to 600 million people in Africa, particularly in rural areas. Akon spent his childhood living in Senegal without electricity. He sought this out as a personal project and remained focused to find a way to improve access to energy.
According to Devex, a social platform for global development communities, in a recent interview Akon stated, “There’s always been so many initiatives in Africa, so much money raised in Africa, but there’s never any results and it gets to the point where you get tired of it. I took it more personally than anything and I wanted to be in a position to where if I move forward on something I wanted to actually see it materialize.”
Without electricity, it is difficult to complete basic household duties. Children must complete their homework by candlelight which is an additional expense to the parents. Over 3.5 million Africans die every year due to fire and harmful pollutants produced from toxic chemicals.
Launched in 2014, the Akon Lighting Project aimed to develop a solar powered solution that provides many African villages with clean and affordable source of electricity. In less than one year, a large variety of solar equipment such as street lamps were installed in 14 African countries. For the first time ever, many rural households, schools, and health centers are now connected to electricity. Jobs have been created in these communities whether for maintenance of the equipment or installation. The positive outcomes of the successful installation and use of solar powered electricity made possible by this project proves that a local presence and practical solutions are essential to solving the energy issues in Africa. This could potentially be a model for other initiatives in Africa in the coming future.