Several years ago, Sengalese-American singer, Akon launched Akon Lighting Africa. This aptly named charity aims to bring electricity to Africa using solar energy. The continent of Africa receives sun 320 days a year, making solar energy an incredibly attainable energy source.
So far, Akon Lighting Africa is responsible for installing solar street lamps and domestic solar panels in over one million households across 14 African countries. Just last month, Akon announced their bright new phase: The Solar Academy. This brand new institution, expected to open this summer in Bamako, Mali’s capital, will teach African Engineers the skills they will need to both build and maintain the solar systems lighting up Africa.
The Solar Academy will be the continent’s first institution that focuses on African entrepreneurs, engineers, and technicians. The Academy will be run by Solektra International, and will call on the expertise of European engineers and technicians who will provide training equipment and run the programs. The programs will place an emphasis on micro-grids which are proving to be incredibly productive in Africa.
Over 70% of the population in Africa is under the age of 35, making Africa one of the youngest areas in the world. With such a large potential workforce, finding long term work is a struggle. Akon Lighting Africa created the Solar Academy with a sustainable business model in mind. The Solar Academy will provide training and create new jobs by enabling local groups to become more self sufficient through technical solutions. Akon’s vision is to foster inclusive growth throughout and beyond Africa.
Over 622 million Africans do not have access to electricity, leaving entire families attempting to go about day to day activities by candlelight or kerosene. Both of which are expensive and inefficient. Furthermore, kerosene emits harmful, toxic fumes. Both the economy and health of the nation suffer, as businesses close earlier than necessary due to the lack of light, and food and medicine are left un-refrigerated.
Akon grew up in Kaolack, Senegal, a town completely devoid of electricity. He has used his incredibly successful career to bring light to his hometown and beyond. And he’s no stranger when it comes to philanthropic work. He was the headliner at the infamous Peace One Day Concert in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year. He is also been involved in the Konfidence Foundation since 2006. “As a regular person” Akon says, “there’s not much you can do, but as a celebrity you can influence millions of people, which makes it a lot easier… I like to take advantage of that and find more ways to bring opportunities to Africa.”