Rap superstar, and Senegal transplant, Akon is planning a solar investment program in Sierra Leone to bring thousands of solar powered lights and traffic lights to the people. Conversely, other rap stars in the United States, like Daniel Hernandez, aka Tekashi 6ix9ine—who likes to post photos of himself holding large amounts of cash while degrading women on Instagram—are facing jail time for child rape. Clearly Akon gets it while many other rappers do not.
Popular African-American Singer, Songwriter, businessman, record producer, actor and philanthropist, Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam has promised to provide 5,000 solar street lights and 2,500 traffic lights to support President Bio’s new direction agenda in #SierraLeone. #Akon pic.twitter.com/HQ9U3BAEs8
— SL Info-Page (@slinfopage) September 29, 2018
In an interview shared by the Sierra Leone presidency, as Africa News reports, Akon said: “Actually (the president) motivated me a lot more, you know; he is a very smart guy (and) he definitely understands Sierra Leone and he understands the future where Africa needs to be.
“Meeting with a lot of the younger Africans who have been elected now is really motivating because my biggest challenge was getting presidents to understand the vision, and with him we speak the same language.
“We pretty much have the same thought process so I think he’s going to do very well for Sierra Leone,” he added.
Akon is no stranger to bringing electricity to others and his track record backs him up. As TFTP reported in 2016, realizing that access to electricity is one of the key components to increasing the quality of life, Akon decided to take action and put his money where his mouth is.
As the Guardian reported at the launch of their project, Akon and his two co-founders — Thione Niang, a Senegalese political activist, and Samba Bathily, a Malian entrepreneur and CEO of the solar energy company Solektra International — believe that what rural African communities need is not overseas charity but affordable renewable energy delivered by fully trained African professionals, managing for-profit projects that bring longevity, generate jobs and build new self-sustaining economies.
They were right.
In less than one year, according to the charity group Akon Lighting Africa, a wide range of quality solar solutions, including street lamps, domestic and individual kits, have been installed in 14 African countries — thanks to a private-public partnership model and a well-established network of partners (including SOLEKTRA INT, SUMEC and NARI).
As a result, a number of households, villages, community houses, schools and health centers located in rural areas have been connected to electricity for the first time ever. Local jobs, primarily for young people, have also been created in these communities, for installation of equipment’s and for maintenance.
The highly positive results observed since the start of the project show that a local presence and practical solutions are key to resolving energy issues in Africa. Akon Lighting Africa’s roadmap fully reflects its founding members’ vision for Africa: to deliver concrete results to populations.
The transformative effects that a single group has had in the region are nothing short of astonishing, and it also brings into question — just what exactly these other groups, who’ve been there for decades, have been doing?
For starters, the majority of charitable organizations operating in Africa are not from Africa; they are primarily backed by western religious organizations or mega charities that have become so bureaucratic they fail to accomplish a single goal.
“One thing I’ve realized about Africa is that only the organisations that involve Africans themselves are successful. A lot of corporations that come with their own policies and try and implement them in Africa fail horribly. The advantage we had is that all three founders are African, so we were able to navigate through each country a lot faster,” said Akon of the work he started.
Aside from having no clue what they are doing in Africa, many of these charities are more concerned with self-sustainability than they are with aid. Or, if they actually deliver aid, it is in the form of food drives, vaccinations, temporary medical help, or proselytization. The effects of such temporary relief are like putting a band-aid on a hemorrhaging artery.
This is not an attempt to demonize the good people who travel across the world to help others. These people most assuredly have their hearts in the right place.
However, Akon’s model appears to be far more successful in providing long-term results.