Musician Akon is set to change lives with his solar academy, which teaches students about using solar panels to bring light to nations in Africa. The award winning producer and R&B singer hopes his project will provide electricity to 600 million people. The artist announced his plans for the school in late May this year.Akon, who is from Senegal and who grew up without electricity, calls his initiative "Akon Lighting Africa." It helps developing nations harness the power of the sun, on a continent has 320 days of sunshine a year. The initiative not only will educate students, but bring legitimate jobs to the continent as well, since 70 percent of Africa's population is under the age of 35.
A student of Akon's solar school will learn "every aspect of installing and maintaining solar-powered electric systems and micro-grids," according to the project's website, reports The Huffington Post. Engineers will learn how to install and maintain solar panels as well as "micro-grids," which are small electrical grids that provide power. Micro-grids are increasingly popular in rural Africa, where conventional power infrastructures are unavailable due to limited resources.
Each year, 3.5 million people in Africa die each year from house fires or harmful pollutants caused by limited lighting resources. Introducing easily-accessible solar panels will reduce the tragedy.
Located in Bamako, Mali, the school is aimed to help African engineers and entrepreneurs develop the skills necessary to enable them to produce solar power for over 600 million people. The academy is supported by the patronage of Solektra International, "in collaboration some European experts who will supply training equipment and programs", such as panels, says the project's official website.According to The Huffington Post, co-founder Samba Bathily said, "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. 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."
Akon Lighting Africa has received a credit line of line of $1 billion from construction giant China Jiangsu International to begin work in low-resource areas of Africa says Tech Times.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, critics like Snoop Dog and Chris Brown have taken to Twitter, wondering if the singer can really pull off the charitable project. But Akon plans to continue his work bringing solar panels to Africa, despite whatever critics say.[Image credit: Leonard Adam/Getty Images]