Akon Moves Forward With Plans To Create Wakanda-Inspired Smart City In Senegal
The artist said the city will be a refuge for Black Americans facing discrimination.
September 07, 2020 at 5:26 pm
Music mogul Akon is moving forward with his plans for a self-titled African city.
According to The Guardian, Akon joined Senegal's minister for tourism, Alioune Sarr, on Monday to reveal details about a futuristic smart city he plans to build in Senegal.
The philanthropist said Akon City is expected to cover 2,000 acres and it's being built near Mbodième, a coastal village in Senegal. The project, which has already garnered support from the government and unnamed investors, is designed to resemble Wakanda, the fictional African country which serves as the setting for Black Panther.
As Blavity previously reported, the musician finalized an agreement for construction of Akon City earlier this year. Now, he's looking forward to the next step.
"We are looking at Akon city to become the beginning of Africa's future," Akon said, according to CNN. "Our idea is to build a futuristic city that incorporates all the latest technologies, cryptocurrencies, and also the future of how African society should become in the future."
Sarr praised the musician for his invention.
"At a time, in a context where national and international private investment is rare. Akon, you have chosen to come to Senegal and invest $6 billion in the coming years," the minister for tourism said
According to the project's website, the solar-powered Akon City will feature skyscrapers, malls, music studios and eco-friendly resorts. Akon also plans to use his own cryptocurrency invention, Akoin, as the central currency method for the city.
The "Don't Matter" artist, whose real name is Aliaune Thiam, said the project will create jobs in the country and serve as a refuge for Black Americans facing discrimination in the United States.
“The system back home [in the U.S.] treats them unfairly in so many different ways that you can never imagine,” he said. “And they only go through it because they feel that there is no other way. If you’re coming from America or Europe or elsewhere in the diaspora and you feel that you want to visit Africa, we want Senegal to be your first stop.”
Akon was born in St. Louis, Missouri and is of Senegalese descent.
KE International, an engineering firm based in the U.S., has been contracted to build the city, The Guardian reported. Construction is scheduled to begin next year, while the first phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2023.
The 47-year-old has been executing major plans on the continent since 2014 when he launched Akon Lighting Africa, which aims to provide solar-powered electricity for 600 million Africans. In regards to his cryptocurrency invention, Akon said Akoin will allow Africans to have control of their own currency and become less dependent on their governments, enabling them to make financial decisions without interference from their countries.
"We want to be able to kill corruption through blockchain itself and I think starting with currency, it is the biggest thing. The main thing they (Africans) will be able to gain is independence and I think being in the position to make your own financial decisions is key," the singer told CNN in 2019.
While many have hailed Akon as a hero, others have critiqued the idea as being too ambitious. When it comes to Akoin currency for example, people are still skeptical about how the plan can work in a country where data is expensive and many of the residents don't use smartphones. Michael Kimani, the chairman of the Blockchain Association of Kenya, described Akoin plans as a “pie-in-the-sky.”
Akon faced more criticism in 2015 when he made a comment about manipulating African leaders.
“In Africa, you’ve gotta manipulate them. You have to,” he said while talking about persuading African leaders to fund his projects.
Born to Senegalese parents, Akon spent the early part of his childhood in Senegal before moving to New Jersey at the age of 7.
"I really want to make the biggest impact in Africa for sure, If I could have my way, Africa would be the United States of Africa," the singer told CNN in 2013.