Access to Electricity in Africa


Akon Lighting Up Africa

As night falls across Africa bustling cities light up and neighborhoods begin to buzz, fed by traffic from well-lit roads. In the countryside, meanwhile, villages are plunged into darkness, shutting down the night-time economies of rural communities as restaurants and shops close and children light candles to do their homework.

Akon himself grew up as a child in Senegal without lighting in his home, and is fully both aware of the  problem of lack of electricity in Africa as well as the need for smart solutions.

Today, 600 million African people still live without access to electricity, and 3.5 million people die each year from inhaling toxic fuels or house fires caused while trying to light their homes. The project: Akon Lighting Africa aims to tackle the problem using a different approach to the usual methods of NGOs in Africa.

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 think this initiative could mark the beginning of an African energy renaissance in which the continent becomes the focal point of a global solar power industry.

Indeed Akons plan to light up Africa are set to transform the continent.

 “What happens usually is that when people come to do business in Africa, they bring the expertise with them but they also bring the workers, and once they’re done they’re gone,” says Niang. “That’s why many cities in Africa have a lot of solar lights but after three years none of them work and nobody is there to maintain them. So we thought it was important to train the young Africans in the local areas. And it’s important to give jobs to young people.”

Here is the progress thus far as of 2016:

  • The organisation is a month away from launching an academy in Bamako, Mali where young people will train in construction, engineering, clerical work and project management.“When we launched we sent 20 young people from 10 African countries to university in Marrakech with a scholarship fund to complete the engineering program and then come back and work for us,” says Niang. “But we then realized this was bigger than that so we set up the academy in Mali.”
  • By late 2017, it is estimated that Akon Lights Africa will be providing electricity to 80 million Africans.  There are currently 600 million Africans in remote areas who have no access to electricity.

Akon’s company is the fastest growing solar-powered electricity provider in the world. His efforts and contribution to the African people are undeniably astonishing, staggering, and game-changing.  His project is profoundly influencing the future of Africa and through this example, clearly setting the stage for the shifts to come to our energy infrastructures.

Video below explaining Akons lighting up Africa:

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