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R&B singer Akon has launched an ambitious project to provide millions of Africans with electricity through a groundbreaking solar power initiative.
Speaking at the United Nations in late May, the Senegalese-American hip-hop star announced his new Solar Academy to train engineers, technicians and entrepreneurs.
The academy, scheduled to open in the Mali capital of Bamako over the summer, will train locals to install and maintain solar-powered equipment. Experts will be on hand to help, according to reports.
“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,” said Akon. “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.”
In what must be one of the most inspiring stories out of Africa this year, the pioneering humanitarian effort does more than provide electricity. It’s creating training, skills and ultimately, steady jobs for thousands of Africans to enhance their local communities using sustainable energy.
The Solar Academy’s under the umbrella of the singer’s Akon Lighting Africa (ALA) initiative, launched in 2014 to bring solar power to Africans who currently live off the grid.
Akon’s ALA initiative, in partnership with Give1Project and ADS Global Corporation SA, has already provided solar power to more than 1 million households. ALA has installed solar-powered streetlights in more than 11 countries on the continent.
“We have the sun and innovative technologies to bring electricity to homes and communities. We now need to consolidate African expertise,” said Samba Baithily, who founded Akon Lighting Africa with Akon and Thione Niang.
The initiative includes installing solar-powered streetlights and residential solar systems in African villages, as well as solar tailored equipment in households.
There are an estimated 600 million people in Africa who live without electricity. Twenty-five African countries are experiencing an energy crisis, according to the World Bank.
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