(1 Sep 2020) AKON PLANS TO MOVE FORWARD AND BUILD A $6 BILLION FUTURISTIC PLACE IN SENEGAL CALLED AKON CITY
American R and B singer Akon is moving ahead with plans to create a futuristic pan-African city, announcing Monday that construction will begin next year on the $6 billion project despite global tourism’s uncertain future.
Akon, who first announced his idea for the utopian city back in 2018, has described it as a “real-life Wakanda,” comparing it to the technologically advanced fictional African place portrayed in the blockbuster film “Black Panther.”
On Monday, Akon said he hoped his project would provide much needed jobs for Senegalese and also serve as a “home back home” for Black Americans and others facing racial injustices.
“The system back home treats them unfairly in so many different ways that you can never imagine. And they only go through it because they feel that there is no other way,” he said.
“So if you’re coming from America or Europe or elsewhere in the diaspora and you feel that you want to visit Africa, we want Senegal to be your first stop.”
Akon, who was born in the United States to Senegalese parents, spent much of his childhood in the West African country where in only 44 percent of rural households had electricity even in 2018.
Senegalese authorities have embraced him as a native son, introducing him by his given name Aliuane Thiam and praising him for investing in Africa at a time of such global financial uncertainty.
On Monday, he traveled with government officials to the grassy fields in Mbodiene some 100 kilometers (62 miles) outside the capital where construction has yet to begin.
Akon said the project already has secured about one-third of the $6 billion needed, but declined to publicly identify his investors, citing non-disclosure agreements. After construction begins in early 2021, the first phase of the project alone could take more than three years, he said.
The almost surrealist, water-like designs of Akon City were inspired by the shapes of traditional sculptures long made in Africa’s villages, he said. However the gleaming structures of Akon City will be made of metal and glass, not wood.
A hotel within the city plans to feature rooms decorated for each of the 54 nations of Africa. However, the project was designed by a Dubai-based architect because Akon said he couldn’t find a suitable one in Africa fast enough. It’s also unclear what percentage of the building materials and construction teams will be sourced locally.
Akon City is promising a bit of everything: a seaside resort, a tech hub, recording studios and even a zone dubbed “Senewood” that developers hope will help develop Senegal’s film industry.
The singer on Monday acknowledged the comparisons made between Akon City and the utopian society in “Black Panther,” calling it an “honor.”
Plans eventually call for Akon City to have its own hospital, police station and even its own cryptocurrency already named AKoin. Without giving specifics, the singer also said he’s considering franchising the concept to other countries on the continent.
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