US-Senegalese artiste and entrepreneur, Akon is pressing ahead with plans to build a $6 billion city that is described as “a real-life Wakanda” in Senegal.
The plans depict gleaming skyscrapers, shopping malls, music studios, and eco-friendly tourist resorts. They envisage that “Akoin”, a cryptocurrency founded by the R&B star, would be the central currency.
Akon said the city would provide opportunities for Senegalese people and an alternative home for African Americans facing racial discrimination.
The system back home (in the US) treats them unfairly in so many ways that you can never imagine. And they only go through it because they feel that there is no other way. If you are coming from America or Europe or elsewhere in the diaspora and you feel that you want to visit Africa, we want Senegal to be your first stop.
Here are five interesting facts you should know about Akon’s futuristic city named Akoncity.
Construction is expected to start in early 2021
The first phase of the city including the construction of roads, residences, police station, and a school is expected to be completed in about three years, within 10 years of the start of construction, the plan is for Akoncity to be completed and running exclusively on Akoin. The city will support up to 500,000 people, according to the city’s planners.
Right now, Akoncity is an empty 2,000-acre plot of land. It is more than a two-hour drive from the capital Dakar, on a narrow two-lane highway, according to Google Maps.
The currency is Akoin
Akoncity will revolve around its own cryptocurrency called Akoin that will be launched this year. The aim is for the crypto to be used as a common method of payment allowing for easy exchange between Africa’s 54 countries so that citizens and entrepreneurs can engage in a digital economy with only a mobile phone.
It is located on Senegal’s Atlantic coast
Akoncity is slated to be built on the Senegalese coastline about 100km south of the capital Dakar. The highway from the capital to Akon’s planned metropolis runs right along some of Senegal’s 330miles of Atlantic coastline at times and veers inland at others, passing through a smattering of villages.
Who is financing the city?
Akon is worth about $80 million according to Forbes. So far, the only named financier of Akoncity is Julius Mwale, the Kenyan technology entrepreneur behind MMTC. He is said to be responsible for the bulk of the $4 billion that’s been raised.
For now, the identities of other partners on the project remain a mystery. They are believed to be made up of “companies and high-net-worth individuals” from around the globe, particularly Africa and the Persian Gulf States.
The city of tourists
According to the city planners, Akoncity will be open to everyone from janitors, to engineers to Hollywood stars.
Jon Karas – Akon’s business partner on the project, described the likely initial residents as business owners, business people, and “a certain number of Europeans looking for a vacation spot”. Akon said he could see “more of the elite local Senegalese living there first before the middle class”.
That list includes himself: “once it’s up, that’s where you are going to find me” he said. “That’s where I’ll be living”.
Akon rose to R&B fame in 2004 after his debut album but has increasingly focused on development projects in Africa in recent years.
In 2014, he started Akon Lighting Africa, which backs solar energy projects in rural areas. For him the inspiration was deeply personal: he found his grandmother was still using candles in Senegal to light her home.
It just doesn’t make sense how 20 years can pass by and the condition doesn’t change, he said back in 2016.