The World Bank estimates that the sub-Saharan Africa economy loses about 2.1% GDP growth as a result of rolling blackouts. It is also estimated that 30% of rural Africa’s population lack electricity supply, making up 600 million people.
Akon, a Hip Hop Rapper, and Songwriter, who traces his roots to Senegal and known globally for his hit songs. He is making a difference in as far as electricity supply shortage is concerned. In 2014, Akon launched an ambitious project dubbed Akon Lighting Africa, a philanthropic project where the rapper in partnership with other stakeholders brings solar power to people living without electrical power in sub-Saharan Africa.
The rapper says that he gets his inspiration out of the fact that he has experienced firsthand what is like to live with rolling blackouts when he visits Senegal. The experience made him become a little creative and instead of trying to achieve the much difficult task to connecting people to the main grid. He decided to use Africa’s most abundant resource, and that is the Sun.
In a period of about a year, the Akon Lighting Africa program has installed more than 100,000 street lamps, 1,000 solar power generators and connected about 200,000 homes to solar electricity. The program has achieved this across 15 different African countries. The program has invested an average of $75,000 per village in a bid to connecting them to solar power. The project is also eyeing moving into 11 other different countries in sub-Saharan Africa over the coming years.
This act has earned Akon #MTH Agents Of Change Recognition alongside 17 other global influencers improving human lives using technology. The #MTH (#MakeTechHuman) recognition is a program run by Wired in collaboration with Nokia. Other similar influencers include:
Mick Ebeling – an entrepreneur living in Los Angeles who built a lab is Sudan to 3D print and delivers prosthetics to the country’s war zone.
Rikin Gandhi – who started a YouTube for Farmers project in India where farmers can share their best farming practices geared towards enhancing modernizing agriculture.
Nonny de la Pena – giving people a front row seat to a virtual tour of the conflicts experienced in Syria.
Toshiharu Mukai – a techie credited for creating a robotic caretaker that looks after the elderly.
Christopher and David Mikkelsen – Danish brothers who designed a multiplatform network that reunites separated refugee families from across the globe.
You can get the full list of other #MTH Change Agents at Wired website.