Akon Lighting Africa: Music Star’s Innovative Solar Power Project
There are 600 million people in Africa without power. This number reflects 30% of the country without access to electricity due to poor capacity and reliability, high prices, political controversy, and lack of international funding. One music star sensation has been paving the way to help the people of Africa turn on lights with solar power since his company’s debut in February of 2014. But before we get into his story, we wanted to give you a picture of Africa’s energy poverty.
Africa Without Power = Lots of Problems
The world needs to know that Africa needs electricity for economic growth, which will lessen the poverty level, and improve the overall health of the people.
“Lack of electricity in Africa remains one of the biggest barriers to the region’s development and prosperity, and continues to trap millions of people in extreme poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 13% of the world’s population, but only 4% of its energy demand. Thirty seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa have a national electrification rate of below 50%. As a result, quality of life is severely diminished, resulting in needless deaths and stifled economic growth. In 2012, of the 915 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 730 million people in sub-Saharan Africa heat their homes and cook using traditional fuels like wood and dung. Inhalation of the smoke and fumes produced from burning traditional fuels results in over four million deaths per year, mainly among women and children. That’s more deaths than from malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.” (https://www.one.org/us/issues/energy/)
Akon Lighting Africa: The Solar Power Initiative
Akon, the R&B music singer/songwriter/producer landed a $1 billion line of credit from an industry leader in China to help make his solar power company reach millions of people in need. Co-founded in 2013, Akon’s company has provided over 16 million people with access to electricity using energy from the sun. Akon Lighting Africa has been able to build solar panels for Africa from unused solar products from a company in China. Akon’s company impacts 15 countries in Africa already, which includes 100,000 solar street lamps, 1,200 solar micro grids, and the creation of 5,500 indirect jobs. Akon’s goal is to provide solar power electricity for 80 million people in Africa by the end of 2017.
The company has also launched a solar power institute in Mali in West Africa to help the country’s engineers and entrepreneurs learn about the installation and maintenance of the solar panels and equipment for longterm use.
Akon’s Passion to Give Back
Why choose solar power over music? Akon was raised in Senegal, a small country in the Western part of Africa. He grew up with no electricity and no running water before his move to the U.S. at age seven. Giving back to his country was something he wanted to do.
Akon’s family has been his main inspiration for wanting to put a pause on music for awhile to focus on bringing electricity to impoverished villages in the many countries of Africa. During an interview on VladTV, Akon expressed his passion for energy poverty when he went to visit his grandmother back in his home country. “Every time I would come, I would try to upgrade her, but she would never take it,” Akon says in the interview. “One day I said, ‘Ma I’m not coming to visit you anymore… you have to at least let me put electricity in the house. Come to find out the grid was so far out; I don’t care how much money I had, there was no way I could bring electricity to her.” His parents also were a major influence with his passion for empowering Africa’s youth.
Why Is KB Electric Blogging About This?
Well, being in the electrical industry (we are electricians), it’s good to give the public information about current events that impact our industry. As electricians, we hope that clean, renewable energy can make an impact around the world. And seeing famous people making a difference with their millions of dollars makes us smile 🙂