It was way back in 2006 when we heard Akon’s song ‘Smack That’ featuring Eminem, and instantly, we became addicted to his uniquely soft voice. His album, ‘Konvicted’, was an international hit and songs like ‘I Wanna Love You’, ‘Sorry, Blame It on Me’ and ‘Don’t Matter’ made him a pop sensation.
His next album, ‘Freedom’, featuring singles like ‘Right Now (Na Na Na)’, ‘I’m So Paid’ and ‘Beautiful’ was a massive success, too. It debuted at number 7 on the Billboard 200.
The singer has collaborated with artists like Snoop Dog, Gwen Stefani, and Lil Wayne. He even recorded a remix of ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, for the re-release of ‘Thriller‘.
After his humongous success, the singer chose to stay away from the limelight. Since the last 3-4 years, he has dedicated all his time to light up Africa.
In 2014, he started a project, Akon Lighting Africa, with a purpose to provide electricity by solar energy to African countries.
600 million African people still live without access to electricity, and 3.5 million people die each year from inhaling house fires caused while trying to light their homes.
In the last three years, the Akon Lighting Africa movement has completed 203,200 small-scale solar projects including the installation of miniature grids and street lighting across 17 African countries.
100,000 street lamps are being installed in villages. 1,000 solar micro-generators are used which act as clean energy hubs for communities.
For him, this is not charity work or a business project, it is a mission to change people’s lives. He says,
Personally, I don’t think that charities in Africa really work. I think it just holds the people down longer than it should. I think the only way to build Africa is to build for-profit businesses that create opportunities and jobs for the people locally. That’s why with Akon Lighting Africa we decided to take a for-profit approach. Ultimately, it’s providing empowerment to local people so they can start developing their own economies.
He has also set up Konfidence, a Senegalese foundation, which is working to build schools and hospitals in the country.
Watch this video where Akon says that Africa is a lot more than just a big jungle.
After rebranding Africa, the singer is making plans to return to music soon. He says,
I can now put more energy into the music. It’s funny because the fans didn’t even realize, they’re like ‘What! It’s been seven years since you put out an album?