U.S. entrepreneur and recording artist Akon hopes to launch a new project in Africa within the next few months supplying electronic learning devices and setting up smart schools, according to a report in PCTech.
Akon made his fortune as an R&B and hip hop artist, but his entrepreneurial spirit was inspired by the 600 million Africans still eating and working by candlelight. He launched Akon Lighting Africa in February 2014 with the goal of bringing solar power to nearly half the 600 million people living without electricity, according to NBC. So far the company has provided solar street lamps, micro-generators, charging stations and home kits to people in 14 countries.
“The solar power we are providing can be used to connect all sorts of devices – telephones to communicate, fridges to keep food — so why not to power computers too?” Akon said, according to PCTech.
Though Akon was born in St. Louis, Missouri, he was raised in Senegal, West Africa until the age of 7, and there he experienced electricity shortages, NBC reported.
In the U.S., 2,000 Akon fans got involved in his campaign when they showed up at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park July 19 for the Passport Experience Festival. Proceeds from ticket sales went toward Akon Lighting Africa, according to NBC.
Akon attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit July 24 in Kenya along with U.S. President Barack Obama. He followed that with a two-week roadshow that included stops in Kenya, Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, Nigeria, Niger and Benin.
During the roadshow, the three founders of Akon Lighting Africa — Akon, Thione Niang and Samba Bathily — announced their long-term objective to use solar energy for education in Africa, PCTech reports.
“We presented the outline of a new project we hope to launch within the next few months to supply learning devices and to set up smart schools” Akon said.
Akon Lighting Africa puts top priority on African development, Niang said. “Access to energy will drive rapid transformations in Africa. Electrification first, education next.”
Akon Lighting Africa and Solektra International, its main partner, hope to establish a presence in 25 countries by the end of 2016.