Akon is about more than just catchy hooks and bling on his lobes. According to bet.com, the Senegalese singer has taken on the ambitious goal of bringing electricity to the 600 million Africans who currently live without it.
Speaking at the United Nations’ second annual Sustainable Energy For All Forum, Akon announced the launch of his Akon Lighting Africa initiative, an academy aiming to train young Africans how to harness the power of the sun to light their homes.
“This professional training center of excellence is a first on the continent and targets future African entrepreneurs, engineers and technicians,” says the press release on the Akon Lighting Africa website. “It aims to reinforce expertise in every aspect of installing and maintaining solar-powered electric systems and micro-grids in particular, which are really taking off in rural Africa.”
The solar academy, which will be located in Mali, will expand the efforts of Akon Lighting Africa, which launched last year and is already operational in 11 countries on the continent. ALA has invested more than $400 million since last year, the multi-platinum artist tells the Wall Street Journal, with an aim to prove the model to potential buyers.
Needless to say, Akon didn’t just lend his name to the initiative, but is a hands-on partner. “I’ve kind of seen what it felt like to live in poverty and understand what it is to be in a position without light and go days without eating,” Akon said. “I felt it. I understood it. And it made me cherish life even more. It put me in a position to be a lot more humble as a celebrity.”