Hip-hop star works to bring solar energy training to Africa

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 6/05/15, 03:40 pm

With songs like “Locked Up” and “Lonely,” hip-hop artist Akon has climbed to the top of America’s music industry. Born in Missouri and raised in Senegal, Akon has performed with Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and African artists.

Now Akon has created the Akon Lighting Africa Initiative with the goal of turning Africa’s 320 days of sunshine into usable solar energy. He announced at a UN forum last month the creation of the Mali-based Solar Academy that will teach people to install and maintain solar panels. The International Energy Agency reports more than 600 million Africans have no access to electricity.

“We can achieve great milestones and accelerate the African transformation process on condition that we start training a new generation of highly qualified African engineers, technicians, and entrepreneurs now,” the singer said.

Akon is the first solo artist to hold the Nos. 1 and 2 spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 charts twice. Fans have bought four of his songs more than 3 million times, and at least 13 others more than 1 million times. He claims to have spent three years in prison, a fact others dispute. At a 2007 New York concert, police charged Akon with endangering the welfare of a minor. When one concert-goer threw an object on stage during his performance, Akon pulled the tosser on stage and threw him back into the crowd.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

Read more from this writer