Paris: With the initial aim of bringing light into one million African homes, Akon, the Most Influential African Musician as ranked by Forbes, on Sunday said the project has had a huge impact on the way people go about their daily lives.
He spoke to Gulf News about his Lighting Africa project and the upcoming Solar Academy which will open on December 15.
Now spanning 15 African countries, Lighting Africa provides the people with solar-powered electricity at affordable prices.
“Our initial aim was to impact a million homes, but now we’re in 15 east-African countries. Not having electricity growing up and then going to the US where I got used to having clean water and light and visiting my family in Africa only to see that not much has changed within a span of 20 years or so is really what inspired me to begin this initiative,” he said.
Akon was speaking at the Re-energising the Future Renewable Energy Track taking place on the sidelines of the ongoing UN Climate Conference (COP21).
In order to better understand how such a business model could be sustainable yet profitable, Gulf News asked Akon to explain how Lighting Africa hopes to inspire others to adopt a similar path.
“Ultimately the way the financial aspect of it works is that we actually have a million dollar credit line with some banking partners and we go to each country and figure out what their energy necessity is and what their budget is and then with our pre financing, fulfil our obligation. Then within three to five years the country pays us back. You can think of it almost like a lease-agreement in so many words,” he explained.
Akon revealed that his project might soon reach Sudan if invited by the country.
Lighting Africa is also working on setting up a Solar Academy to train individuals and trainers in the field of renewable energy.
“You can never have too many experts in general and I think there’s a lack of education being done in this field,” he told Gulf News.
Therefore, under the patronage of Solektra, a company set up by Akon, Thione Niang and entrepreneur Samba Bathi ly, the Solektra Solar Academy will open on December 15 in Mali to train Africans on the maintenance and installation of solar technologies.