Akon stopped by to talk with VladTV about his light up Africa Project, how he used to live without electricity, and how the politics of starting his project were extremely tricky.
Akon let us know that he grew up in Senegal a small country on the West coast of Africa. Akon grew up without electricity and running water, and when it came time to eat, cook, or wash he had to use the same water from a running water well for everything. “When I came to the United States, and [saw] the projects or what they claimed to be projects, Vlad I thought they was living in luxury, compared to what poverty is back home…” Akon explained that the US citizens have it a lot better than others around the world.
So what led to Akon lighting up Africa? His grandmother was the main inspiration. He explained she never moved from her hometown and still lived without electricity. “Every time I would come, I would try to upgrade her, but she would never take it… one day I said ma I’m not coming to visit you anymore… you have to at least let me put electricity in the house. Come to find out the grid was so far out; I don’t care how much money I had there was no way I could bring electricity to her.” That’s when he said something had to be done, not just for his grandmother but for everyone in the rural area living without power. “Without electricity, you can’t even begin to develop a country, let alone your own home.”
Akon got started by partnering with a some of his Billionaire friends he made along his career, and he wanted to build power plants in the five major areas of Africa so the countries could share the plants, but as he got his investors together, he began running into the politics. “I started to realize how deep it was cause this is the type of business that starts real wars, the politics was little heavier than I expected…”Akon explained it was too complicated for him to be dealing with, so while searching for another solution, he came across Solar Energy. “So I went to China, met up with some friends out there, some manufacturers, and aligned myself with one of the biggest companies in China, that’s own by the Chinese Government, that manufactures Solar…” Akon learned a lot while doing this project, like how there was a significant tax on solar products due to George. W Bush. “He did it because his main agenda was in oil, he needed the oil to keep burning right, so anything renewable he wanted to keep away because if effected the money.” Akon took advantage of all of the unused solar products, and the Chinese manufacturers gave him a Billion dollar credit line to start his project. Akon’s project is now in 15 countries, and he’s provided almost 16 million people in Africa with power, and energy.