Co-founders of the Akon Lighting Africa Initiative (Left) Thione Niang, (Centre) Akon, (Right) Samba Bathily. Pic credit: The United Nations
Co-founders of the Akon Lighting Africa Initiative (Left) Thione Niang, (Centre) Akon, (Right) Samba Bathily. Pic credit: The United Nations

In West Africa, the Akon Lighting Africa team concluded its two-week African road show on Wednesday in Benin.

The three co-founders, Akon, Thione Niang and Samba Bathily inspected the new street lamps installed in the district of Pahou, near to the capital Cotonou with Prime Minister, Lionel Zinsou.

Solar brings light to learners

Akon explained: “The solar power we are providing can be used to connect all sorts of devices – telephones to communicate, fridges to keep food so why not to power computers too.

“We presented the outline of a new project we hope to launch within the next few months to supply learning devices and to set up smart schools.”

Niang added: “Akon Lighting Africa is an initiative that puts top priority on African development. Access to energy will drive rapid transformations in Africa.  Electrification first, education next.”

This stopover in Benin was also an opportunity to review progress on the solar project to date in this country, Akon Lighting Africa said in a statement.

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.

Solektra is currently installing the last of the 1,500 solar powered street lamps and 2,200 solar kits, which was agreed under a tender that it was awarded a few months ago and targeting 124 localities.

Bathily explained: “We have already installed over 75% of the equipment and the authorities are most satisfied by the work done by our teams in the field.

“Benin is a strategic country.  By winning this tender, we have been able to show that our approach is both solid and involves high quality solutions.”

Akon Lighting Africa attracts opportunity

The trio traveled to Kenya, Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, Nigeria, Niger and Benin. During the tour they discussed and explored opportunities with local agencies responsible for rural electrification on how to deploy the solar solutions proposed by Solektra international.

The initiative’s ‘prefinancing’ business model has, according to Akon Lighting Africa, attracted significant investor attention.

The Akon Lighting Africa initiative said in a statement that by multiplying the number of pilot schemes or participating  tenders, the company and Solektra International is hoping to quickly achieve its objective to establish a presence in 25 countries by the end of 2016.