Even those of us who are not fans of pop music and showbiz have heard the name Akon. Now, it seems that the interests and talents of this Senegalese-American RnB singer go beyond music as he is launching a major initiative with a purpose to improve the lives of millions of Africans.

The initiative called Akon Lighting Africa aims to bring solar power energy to 600 million people in rural Africa who don’t have electricity at all.

With 320 days of sunshine a year, Africa is a perfect fit for solar power but yet lacks experts and technicians who would have the knowledge necessary to bring innovative sustainable technologies to African households.

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,” said Samba Baithily, co-founder of Akon Lighting Africa.

For this purpose, Akon plans to open a ‘Solar Academy’ this summer in Bamako, Mali. Training and equipment provided by European specialists will give Solar Academy graduates all the necessary knowledge and skills to implement this ambitious project. In particular, the future engineers will be trained to build and maintain small power systems called “micro-grids,” which have been developing quickly in rural Africa.

Not only will this help provide African communities with electricity, but it will also create new job positions. Considering the fact that 70% of the African population is under 35 years old, this is a major step in improving the living conditions of many people in this continent.

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,” said Baithily.

In fact, it’s not Akon’s first philanthropic initiative. Back in 2007, he launched a charity organization called the Konfidence Foundation, which aims to raise the levels of literacy and education among unprivileged African and American children, as well as to support and improve health conditions for poor families in Senegal, West Africa and the United States.

Image credit: Akon Lighting Africa