It's been a while since R&B singer Akon was making headlines, and although the Senegalese- American released an album and started a record label last year, it's his large-scale environmentally conscious project that's grabbing our attention recently.
In 2014 Akon began the Akon lighting Africa project, which since its launch has been successful in its mission to provide power to 1 million African households, spanning over 14 countries. As well as providing power, the project subsidizes costs for consumers, making it a viable competitor with polluting alternatives such as candles and kerosene. The project has created 5000 jobs and although it's no longer running under Akon's name, it's still active and providing market intelligence and access to finances needed for solar initiatives.
More recently however, Akon has broken ground on a "green city", which has been compared to Black Panther's futuristic country of Wakanda, that he is building in Senegal. The 6 billion dollar green city project is being launched in Mbodième, West Senegal, with work scheduled to begin early 2021and finish in 2029.
What makes the city sustainable?
The project is guided by American company KE International, a company which specializes in sustainable cities and is aiming to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. The LEED is a branch of the US Green Building Council whose standards for certification consist of 5 categories: Energy, Water, Waste, Transportation, and Quality of Life. At the moment, little has been released on how the city plans to meet this criteria but it has specified that by 2023 (when the first phase of the project will be completed) a landfill for the city's waste and a photovoltaic solar power plant (the city's only power supply) will have been built.
Another green idea planned for the city will be the use of it's very own cryptocurrency called, you guessed it, Akoin.
Unlike other cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, which have been criticized for their heavy power usage in the mining process, Akoin uses prepaid cellphone minutes as currency, therefore not relying on additional power costs. Whilst Akoin is still in its developmental stages, its whitepaper outlines thorough research into the local economy and it's huge dependence on mobile phones. This, along with the rest of the city, will hopefully be an important step in applying sustainable African solutions!
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