Do you still remember the hit songs Smack That, Lonely and Don’t Matter? Around the summer of 2010 the African rapper Akon became world famous with these songs. Akon produced two multi-platinum albums which made him a wealthy man. Today, 7 years since he released his last album, Akon is closing in on Jay-Z to become the richest rapper in the world. This status is not just reached by the royalties earned on his music; but Akon has spent the last years working hard on his solar energy company, and it has been very successful so far.
Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Bongo Puru Nacka Lu Badara Akon Thiam (I’m not trying to reach a word count, this is his real name) was born in the United States but spent his early years in Senegal. When he had become a world-famous artist, he wanted to do shows on the continent he grew up in. This turned out to be impossible because many of the places he wanted to perform at didn’t have the ability to support his big shows simply because of a lack of access to electricity. Akon established his enterprise Akon Lighting Africa in 2014 together with businessman Samba Bathily and political activist Thione Niang, to combat this problem.
The company collaborated with Chinese companies like Sumec Group Corp. and Nari Group Corp. Akon Lightning Africa operates as an ideal intermediate between the impecunious Sub-Saharan Africa and the big solar energy corporations.
Akon’s company works together with local governments and small banks in Sub-Saharan Africa. The main strategy is to set up public-private partnerships to set up the financing of the projects. The Chinese partners deliver the solar panels. The payback period is very flexible and ranges from three to eight years.
In an interview with the international news agency Bloomberg, Akon stated that he is very content with the progress that his company has made. In the past three years, he and his partners have managed to set up more than 200.000 solar panels in over 20 African countries. The market in which they operate has been expanding a lot too. The company is currently becoming very active in the less developed parts of China. Additionally, Akon Lightning Africa is considering an initial public offering to finance expansion to Brazil and India.
Musically we probably won’t be hearing from Akon anytime soon, as he is still very busy with his ever-expanding enterprise. The rapper attracted the attention Forbes magazine even claimed he is on his way to become the richest rapper alive. Akon’s personal mission for the company is to contribute to Africa’s transformation and to give the underprivileged Africans opportunities. As long as this keeps being the main drive for him, it’s fair to say he deserves to be up there with the wealthiest rappers like Jay-Z and Dr. Dre.