A field of solar panels is shown. (AP Photo)
Akon (PeterCruise/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
Akon (PeterCruise/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

By KaiElz
Special to the NNPA via The Chicago Defender

Imagine that the story about Bruce Jenner’s sex change or gender transformation as Caitlyn Jenner: got more coverage than the humanitarian effort that will transform 600 million lives.

When he’s not singing or producing music, Akon is busy providing sustainable living options to people in African countries. The Senegalese-American singer’s initiative, appropriately called Akon Lighting Africa, aims to supply electricity to 600 million people in Africa who lack it with the launch of the Solar Academy.

Located in Bamako, Mali, the Solar Academy will help African engineers and entrepreneurs develop skills that will enable them to produce solar power. Experts will be on hand to help the participants with training and equipment, reported  by a Reuters report.
According to Akon,  Lighting Africa, the goal of the academy is to teach people how to maintain solar-powered electricity systems and microgrids. Both systems have been growing quickly in rural parts of Africa.
“We have the sun and innovative technologies to bring electricity to homes and communities. We now need to consolidate African expertise,” said Samba Baithily, who founded Akon Lighting Africa with Akon and Thione Niang.

When  Akon announced to the world in late May  his  new initiative to provide solar power to 600 million residents of Africa it should have broken the internet. It didn’t but its still great news not only for Africa but the world.  The Senegalese-American celebrity is the latest participant in what some have deemed a “solar revolution” that’s bringing the alternative energy source to the impoverished but sun-rich continent.

The Akon Lighting Africa initiative begins with the launch of a new “Solar Academy,” which will open this summer in Bamako, the capital of Mali. The academy will teach solar engineers how to install and maintain solar panels and “micro-grids,” small electrical grids that provide power to a very limited region. “Micro-grids” are increasingly popular in rural Africa, where conventional, large-scale power infrastructure is unavailable.

The good news is that in transforming the sun light into solar power as a source of electricity is a no brainer for Africa, which has 320 days of sunshine so harnessing solar energy is an ideal way to provide electricity to those who live without it. And more importantly it is earth friendly. Knowing this, taking such steps seems  natural and the question is what hasn’t this happened sooner.

We  are left to believe that the timing is such that we had to have am individual with the insight and desire to contribute to Africa in a way to make a difference who also gads the means and resources to make it happen. So thank God, for Akon.

With this move there may be hope for Africa yet Mark Lelinwalla, wrote in Tech Times, “the initiative an incredible effort.”

Lelinwalla also wrote, “According to multiple reports, Akon Lighting Africa has received a credit line of line of up to $1 billion from construction juggernaut China Jiangsu International and will begin work with the most low-resource, remote areas. Already revered in his native Senegal, Akon’s level of love and respect worldwide will sky-rocket if his ambition generates massive results.”

Because there is  an estimated 600 million Africans lacking electricity, the initiative is poised to tackle a daunting problem. But they’re far from alone in seeking to change lives through this energy source — solar is increasingly seen as both a viable alternative and a business opportunity on the continent.

Women are leading a “solar revolution” in Africa, according to a Reuters article which explains how Green Energy Africa helped 200 Maasai women from Kenya’s Kajiado County become solar power entrepreneurs:

“The women, trained in solar panel installation, use donkeys to haul their solar wares from home to home in the remote region, giving families their first access to clean and reliable power.

‘For us, the impact of solar technology is unparalleled,’ said Jackline Naiputa, who heads the Osopuko-Edonyinap group, one of the five women’s groups leading the alternative energy charge in the area.”

In May, News24 reported on an initiative to provide rural South Africans with backpack-mounted solar charging stations as a means of generating both electricity and income. It was also reported that another corporation wants to provide power to 100,000 homes and businesses in Ghanathrough a system that combines solar power with power storage in electrical batteries.

Earlier this year  a solar vendor in Kenya  told the BBC, “If we can get more solar we can grow together.”

Yet it’s not just Africa that sees the promise of solar power. According to the same report: “By 2050, analysts from the International Energy Association (IEA) believe the sun could be the world’s largest source of power.”

Kate Lanier, writing for MintPress News’ MyMPN blog, in March, explained that major world financial institutions finally see solar as a safer investment than fossil fuels. With even the global 1% beginning to support energy alternatives, she called it “a “key moment … to ensure not just a retreat from the brink of species-annihilation, but a new approach that elevates and ensures respect and dignity for the planet and all life upon it.”


Did you like this story?
Would you like to receive articles like this in your inbox? Free!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *