The Sengalese-American singer announced on Thursday that he’s launching a new “Solar Academy” in Africa as part of his Akon Lighting Africa initiative, which aims to provide electricity to 600 million people across the continent, according to a Reuters report.
The academy is set to open in Bamako, the capital of Mali, this summer, and will teach African engineers and entrepreneurs how to produce solar power. European experts will be on hand to help with training and equipment. The academy’s main goal is teaching participants how to install and maintain solar-powered electricity and microgrids, which Akon Lighting Africa says “are really taking off in Africa.” Harnessing solar power is the ideal way for those without electricity to obtain it, because Africa has 320 days of sunshine a year. “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.
With 70 percent of Africans younger than 35, there is a huge need for sustainable jobs, and the organization hopes their efforts will reap long-term benefits. “We expect the Africans who graduate from this center to devise new, innovative, technical solutions,” Niang said. “With this Academy, we can capitalize on Akon Lighting Africa and go further.”