“A new economic model to unlock the amazing potential of the African continent”
New York, May 19, 2015 – The Akon Lighting Africa initiative and its founders, Akon, Thione Niang Samba Bathily are honoured at the second Sustainable Energy for 4 All (SE4A)forum, organized by the United Nations and the World Bank this week in New York. This invitation is official and international recognition for this project. Launched in 2014, it aims to accelerate the electrification of Africa by installing in rural communities off grid solar solutions suited to home and collective use. Already 11 countries – Mali, Senegal, Republic of Guinea, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea and Kenya – have received these innovative equipment over the past year.
The success of Akon Lighting Africa is based on a unique business model. Solar kits offered to households and small communities are indeed pre-financed in order to be immediately available. As explained by Samba Bathily at the panel session on financing issues for energy, “We started the project early 2014 by securing 1 billion $ credit lines with international banks and financial partners; we later went to meet African governments and microcredit agencies that were convinced by this approach; they can indeed repay these loans at the appropriate pace”.
According to the founders, this new approach will help democratizing access to energy on the continent more quickly. “Development aid is important; however now we must move to an economic logic if we really want address the challenge. Without access to energy, there is no development: no schools, no economic activity beyond a certain time, no communications,” said Thione Niang at the opening plenary. “We came to New York to stress that if such situation persists, then the world continues to be deprived of all the amazing potential of Africa and Africans,” he added.
Akon Lighting Africa is indeed an initiative that fosters inclusive growth over the continent. The solutions proposed – domestic and public lighting and use of electrical and electronic equipment request specific skills for installation and maintenance. There is therefore an opportunity to train a new generation of engineers and technicians in this field and create jobs. This virtuous circle – technical solutions, tailored financing, new jobs – has retained the attention of the United Nations and the World Bank at a time when 622 million Africans are still without electricity.
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