Big moves and bold plans

2 Years Later, What’s Up With Akon’s USD 6 Bn Futuristic Smart City?


November 19, 2020

To dare is to dream, and this probably sums up the rationale behind the yearnings of world-famous musician, Akon, who has set out to build a cryptocurrency-powered city in Senegal. It comes off as outlandish but it appears there’s some work behind the talk.

Else, what could have been the explanation for an individual with a net worth reported to be USD 80 Mn to aspire to build a USD 6 Bn smart city? Akon is building a city that is worth 75-times more than he owns.

For curiosity about Akon’s origin, he was born Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam to Senegalese parents in the United States and grew up in Senegal. He has oftentimes been an evangelist of Africa’s great potential and has been a voice to the continent’s development.

The AkonCity project isn’t the first developmental project of Akon for Africa. Back in 2014, he founded a solar-power project called “Light up Africa” which has so far been rolled out in about 25 countries on the continent.

That project aims to subsidize solar power and provide electricity to about 600 million people in rural communities. It’s reported to have helped more than 32 million people in about 25 countries to gain access to basic electricity through solar energy as of 2017.

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But the AkonCity project is several orders of magnitude bigger and bolder. A billion-dollar city that has all of the basic social amenities, and is a world-class destination for tourism while operating on its own cryptocurrency is what Akon is building.

The grand plan portrays skyscrapers, shopping malls, and tourist resorts – basically a “Project Dubai,” but for Africa.

AkonCity’s website describes the project as a “real-life Wakanda,” with Akon aiming at bringing that kind of fictional setting portrayed in the film “Black Panther,” to life.

The smart city project aims to be the first to come to mind when reference is being made to prime tourism destinations in Africa.

Akon first announced this audacious project back in 2018. Two years on, what’s up with all that big talk, and what has happened during this time?

The state of Akon’s planned smart city

For projects as enormous as this, there is a likelihood of having a gap time between the period of the announcement and its commencement. This gap would likely be the result of the unavailability of the resources needed to kick things off.

The AkonCity project seems to have followed that pattern as it was first announced in 2018 but may have found the year 2020 to be the year in which the vision actually began to take real shape.

Apart from the availability of resources, one of the other factors that could hinder big projects like this is the absence of governmental support but Akon appears to have since cracked this.

In 2018, Akon announced that he was gifted a 2,000-acre piece of land by the Senegalese president, suggesting the project has got government backing.

One of the most important aspects of running a project, finance, has been a major reason the AkonCity project is yet to commence.

But there’s some progress in that between when the project was first announced and now, USD 4 Bn has been raised out of the estimated USD 6 Bn cost. This suggests that around 67 percent of the funds needed to build the futuristic smart city is in the bag. 

The funding process was handled by KE International, an American Engineering and Infrastructure Consulting firm, and they also double as the project’s handlers. According to some reports, the USD 4 Bn was secured mostly from leaders in the healthcare and technology infrastructure industry.

Also, earlier this year, Akon officially launched a cryptocurrency which is called Akoin, and this is currently operational in MMTC Kenya. 

On paper, the AkonCity project is planned to kick off construction in 2021 and has a 10-year construction plan.

The project is divided into different phases. The first phase of the project would be completed in 2023. This phase is where the construction of roads, a hospital, shopping mall, residences, hotels, a police station, a school, and a photovoltaic solar power plant would be done.

The second phase of the Akon City project is penned to start in 2024 and is projected to be completed in 2029. This phase would lead to the complete construction of the city that would then operate exclusively on the Akoin cryptocurrency. . 

However, at the moment, AkonCity is an empty 2,000-acre area of land. The big question is: Will we have AkonCity in 10 years? Or would this be one of the many visionary projects that titillated fancies and grabbed attention but never got off the ground? Well, with the project still in its infancy stage, only time would tell.

Featured Image Courtesy: Cointelegraph

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