HOW AKON IS LIGHTING AFRICA

How many times have you been told to never judge a book by its cover, or never accept things at face value? Years ago I was in Atlanta for the filming of Tyler Perry's film Daddy's Little Girl, starring Idris Elba and Gabriel Union. One evening for dinner we were join by arguably one of the most important music producers in the game, AKON -without who 'little monsters' would have no Lady Gaga. He was kind and noticeably observant of his surroundings. Little did I know that, that introspection was the same mindfulness that in years to come is positively impacting the lives of nearly 600 million people on the continent of Africa and in Latin America. Akon, sat down with MIC.com to speak about his transformational platform AKON LIGHTING AFRICA. We are illuminated and inspired.

For years, Sengalese-American singer Akon only lit up dance floors figuratively. Today, the multinational recording star is using his talents to light up Africa in a very different way. 

A year ago, he launched Akon Lighting Africa, an initiative designed to bring electricity to millions of Africans using solar energy. Thus far, they've installed solar street lamps and domestic solar panels in over a million households in 14 African countries. Last month, the company announced a new phase of its initiative: Akon Lighting Africa is going to be building a "Solar Academy" in Bamako, Mali's capital, in order to teach the skills to build and maintaining solar systems to African engineers. 

Africa's future may be about to get a lot brighter.

Akon's roots: Akon himself grew up in Kaolack, Senegal, a town without electricity. "I always had a passion for Africa because I am from Africa and I always felt Africa was being taken advantage of," Akon told African Vibes. "As a regular person there's not much you can do, but as a celebrity you can influence millions of people, which makes it a lot easier. Things can happen a lot faster, and I like to take advantage of that and find more ways to bring opportunities to Africa." 

Africa's relative lack of electricity has presented serious impediments to economic growth. Over 600 million Africans lack access to electricity. Children struggle to do their homework by candlelight or kerosene, which is expensive and gives off toxic fumes. Shops close early, roads can be hazardous to travel and food and medicine can't be kept cold easily. 

By providing electricity to Africans, Akon Lighting Africa is doing far more than just providing modern conveniences, they are presenting Africans with pathways out of poverty. Since the African continent receives sun nearly 320 days a year, solar panels may be the best way to offer sustainable energy solutions.

Read the rest of the article here at MIC.com.