Three men backing one mission: widening the access to electricity


Akon and Thione Niang, the co-founders of Akon Lighting Africa with Samba Bathily, both grew up in Kaolack, Senegal, a town without electricity. It is their childhood memories and personal experience of a “life without light” that fuels their commitment.

“When I was young, we had to study by candle light with only one candle for the entire family.  I want to make sure that children no longer have to work in those conditions.” Thione NiangThey began discussing what they could do to actively help drive Africa’s transformation in September 2013 in Washington DC. A few weeks later, they agreed that the top priority was to invest in energy, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas, because this was the essential foundation for everything else – education, health and economic development.

 Their plan came to life once they were joined by Samba Bathily, an entrepreneur from Mali specializing in solar energy. Not only did he share Akon and Thione Niang’s beliefs, he was also able to provide targeted solutions through his company, Solektra INT, which supplies solar-powered equipment. By combining their networks and international experience and expertise, the three men launched this ambitious project in February 2014, with a view to supporting African growth as well as the empowerment of African youth.

 Since then, the three founders have put everything into the project, negotiating win-win partnerships with African States and continuing to extend this initiative and amplify its impact.

 Akon Lighting Africa already operates in about ten countries and is looking for greater expansion across Africa.