The multi-platinum, award-winning Senegalese American is using his international influence to create a global movement. As an artist and business mogul, Akon has held fast to a childhood dream of making a positive impact throughout Africa, and has dedicated his life to changing the way the rest of the world views and does business with the continent.
As part of these ambitious endeavors, the entrepreneur is creating his own advanced city of the future in Senegal: Akon City. With technologically advanced architecture and a new economic infrastructure, Akon City will be powered by its own cryptocurrency, Akoin, and feature eight major districts: Senewood, Technology, Education, Health and Safety, Entertainment, Offices and Residential, and an African Culture Village.
Encapsulated throughout these districts will be eye-catching architecture inspired by the city of Wakanda from Black Panther. The impressionistic designs are reminiscent of Van Gogh, but sci-fi, with abstract motifs that stretch the imagination. Described by the visionary himself, Akon states, “Akon City is an extension of the sea into the land with waves diving deep into the roots of each building, making it dance on the music of Akon…to celebrate the rise of Akon City reflecting nothing but happiness [and] bringing no less than success.”
With this project, Akon hopes to create solutions addressing major issues like economic progress and technological advancement. Located at the heart of Cadastral de Mbodiene Park in Senegal, the project will then expand to Uganda, Dubai, and throughout the Middle East and Asia. Akon’s belief in the importance of self-development, perseverance and humility is reflected in his work and accomplishments today. “Patience is the answer to everything,” he said. “Ego is the destroyer of all success.”
Akon: The awakening moment started when I was a kid. This is something I’ve been working towards since I was young, and ultimately because of the experience of first coming to America. I was coming from a village in Senegal called Kaolack. We had no running water and there was no electricity. My dad flew me and my brother to the U.S. when I was seven. We landed in St. Louis, Mo. This was my first time ever getting on an airplane. You can imagine what was going on in my mind then. I landed in this country that has massive, tall buildings. I mean, I saw cars flying past like a racetrack. It was literally the future for me. It was always something in the back of my mind that one day I wanted to be able to experience this back home. It was literally like going from the village to the future. That experience always stuck with me and made me want to one day present something close to this nature to my people.
MAKING IT HAPPEN
Akon: It was around 2008 when I really started acting on it. This was around the time when I was at the peak of my career. Financially, I was in a good place. I had a large network around the world. I thought, let me utilize all these connections that I’m making around the world, these big, real estate and energy tycoons. I was doing weddings for people who were becoming good friends. They were asking me, “What do you want to do?” and I said, “I want to change Africa.”
That’s when it all started to really start to come together. Then I realized that I was meeting people that I would have never been able to meet in a million years. The people that I’m meeting have the network and the access to things that can actually help me to fulfill my dream.
I started reaching out to all these friends. My friend and partner Jon Karas was one of them. I reached out and told him, “I want to make a coin.” Jon said, “Well let’s put the team together.” And he has put together the most amazing team. It’s been one of those things where I came to understand I am not only a voice, but I’m also an influencer, to the point where I can influence the people around me. People that I actually love and do business with were ready to join me in creating something that could change the world.
Africa has always been what saved and created the opportunities for everyone in the world. Yet it was always the one that was left behind. I wanted to find a way where the world could give back. The development that you see around the world is done through many African resources, yet Africa never really benefited from it. That’s the one thing that I really want to change.
DESIGNING A REAL-LIFE WAKANDA
Akon: The Technology District will allow kids to be super creative and to work in that space. We plan on making it easy to function. I’m excited about developing that whole tech world in Africa. I’m also excited about the Medical District that’s going to be in the city, which is based on medicinal research throughout the globe. It’ll include natural medicines that people have avoided because of the pharmaceutical companies that have gotten in the way, medicines that people really don’t need to pay millions of dollars for, it’s just within the things they eat and drink. I’m really excited about how this is going to play out and educate the world. We also plan on creating an Entertainment District because that’s the world I come from. Then to tie it all together, Akoin, which is the cryptocurrency people will utilize to trade within the city. They will be able to transfer that coin into any other currencies.
MAKING EDUCATION ACCESSIBLE
Akon: We decided to take the concept of being able to merge different education systems from around the world. One thing about Africa is that the kids are super excited about education and take it seriously. You have kids that are four or five and they’ll walk miles just to go to school. We also noticed that a lot of parents are flying their kids out of Africa to the United States or Europe to go to school, seeking education at large universities. We put together a program where we’re partnering up with all the major universities and colleges in the U.S. to build their hubs in Akon City. This way locals can be able to gain the same educational level that they would receive if they traveled abroad.
We are also creating affordable housing to relocate those that are living on the land where the city is being built on, including 1,000 affordable housing units that consist of two-story, five-bedroom, single-family homes. Some of them were living in huts and straw houses. Not only is it a huge upgrade for them, but it also helps to build the economy and allow them to be able to live in a more comfortable environment. We’re also training them to be able to be employees within the city itself–that way they benefit from all of the new living opportunities.
Akon: I know one of the biggest questions everyone always asks is, “Are you ever going to do music again?” For a long time I said, “No, I’m retired. I’m done. I’m finished.” Only because I had to buy time to get the ball rolling for Akon City and the other things I was working on. But what I can say exclusively to L.A. STYLE is that I will be releasing a new record. It is ready to go and I’m super excited.
Interview by Tricia Love Vargas
Presented by lastyleleaders.com