Last week, Senegalese-American musician Akon announced during the 2nd United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Forum, the launch of a solar academy aimed at giving African engineers and entrepreneurs the skills needed to develop solar power in Mali, West Africa.
The musician previously launched Akon Lighting Africa along with co-founders Thione Niang and Samba Baithily, aimed at bringing solar powered electricity to 600 million Africans. The company’s efforts have to date been active in 14 countries on the continent.
Solar-powered electricity and micro-grids are the future
Baithily stated: “We have the sun and innovative technologies to bring electricity to homes and communities. We now need to consolidate African expertise. The academy will aim to teach people how to install and maintain solar-powered electricity systems as well as micro-grids, which are really taking off in rural Africa.”
On the last day of the SE4ALL Forum hosted in Washington Akon said: “I have felt what it’s like to live in poverty and understand what it is to be in a position without light and go days without eating.”
Akon added: “I felt it. I understood it. And it made me cherish life even more. It put me in a position to be a lot more humble as a celebrity.”
International experts to supply training equipment
This project is being introduced under the patronage of Solektra International, a partner of Akon Lighting Africa, in collaboration with international experts who will supply training equipment and programmes. It aims to reinforce expertise in every aspect of installing and maintaining solar-powered electric systems and micro-grids in particular.
“We have the sun and innovative technologies to bring electricity to homes and communities. We now need to consolidate African expertise and that is our objective”, explained Bathily.
He added: “We are doing more than just investing in clean energy. We are investing in human capital. We can achieve great milestones and accelerate the African transformation process on condition that we start training a new generation of highly qualified African engineers, technicians and entrepreneurs now.”
Creating a sustainable future for Africa’s youth
With approximately 70% of the population aged under 35, Africa is the continent with the youngest population today. One of the biggest challenges it faces is training and creating sustainable employment.
Niang commented: “We expect the Africans who graduate from this centre to devise new, innovative, technical solutions. With this academy, we can capitalise on Akon Lighting Africa and go further.”
Akon Lighting Africa adopted a sustainable business model from the outset – providing training and creating jobs enabling local populations to embrace technical solutions and become self-sufficient. The Solar Academy will help to extend this business model and promote inclusive growth throughout Africa.