Is Akon being used as a front for Chinese-owned businesses to sell solar power to Africa? | Welcome to Linda Ikeji's Blog

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Friday, 10 July 2015

Is Akon being used as a front for Chinese-owned businesses to sell solar power to Africa?

So says this article by Joseph Guthrie titled 'Tricking Africa?'. Read below..
When the news broke about Akon’s initiative to bring solar power to 600 million Africans, social media was awash with praise and mainstream media felt compelled to spread the word. The Senegalese-American recording artist/entrepreneur officially became the face of the plan that he had dropped hints about for a year. Upon first glance, you couldn’t really blame anyone for extending their adulation.
The world’s second largest continent and its 54 nations have repeatedly been a target for imperialism, colonialism, and conquest so seeing a descendent “give back” to the people struggling to keep their heads above water was indeed a refreshing moment.
 The official Akon Lighting Africa (ALA) webpage is a spectacle to behold: Akon’s visage and signature adorning his words in the form of a quotation “…bringing hope to millions and ultimately giving Africa a better future” greet you as the page loads; three major bullet points outlining the programme’s overall goals to bring light to the African masses neatly line up next to that. For lots of people – the global black diaspora, notwithstanding – this move is beyond major. 

Akon’s peers in the entertainment industry – particularly black artists and/or actors – were very vocal in their support. Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Tyrese, Timbaland, and Lil Jon used their respective spaces to tell their fans and affiliates about this incredible academy. Mike Bloomberg and organisations, including the United Nations, also spoke highly of Akon’s efforts. Countless Africans tendered their gratitude to Akon for stepping forward and using his stardom to make a significant difference in their lives. Truly, it was marvellous to see all of this positivity abounding.
Or at least… it seemed marvellous at the time.

Not even a day after ALA was officially announced, Snoop Dogg took to Instagram to air a grievance. He bemoaned the fact that major media outlets prioritised the coverage of Caitlyn Jenner over Akon’s solar academy, insulting Caitlyn – a transgender woman – in the process. Of course, I was appalled by the labelling of Jenner as “a science project,” and when I took to Twitter to air my own views on the discourse (calling out the attention ALA wasn’t getting using that kind of transphobic language is quite crass and wholly unproductive, I feel), I saw that valid questions were being asked about ALA.

JJ Bola – author, poet, and educator – was one of a few people I noticed looking at the ALA initiative critically. “…Where does that 600 million figure come from? That’s half the continent,” he tweeted. He’s not far off: The estimated total population of Africa is 1.111 billion people. Half of that is 550,500,000 – very close to the number of people that ALA has said they will deliver a clean, renewable energy source to. Even allowing for lofty ambition, I still believed the target was achievable considering ALA’s $1bn line of credit and the substantial political networking ALA has already done to get this realised. And then, I was presented with a blog post in the Corge that made no bones about why they thought ALA was merely a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Their lengthy essay laid out major concerns, stating Akon is nothing more than a “scumbag torch-bearer for the new imperialism that is coming” to the continent. Initially, the whole thing read to me like an aimless rant, effing and blinding and throwing out all manner of insults to Akon’s character. Thankfully, there was a decent amount of substance to the concerns and a bit of righteousness to the anger. It also provided answers to my own questions about ALA, upon further research and fact-checking. Consider the following:

Who is funding ALA? ALA has been provided a $1bn line of credit via China Jiangsu International, a state-owned international conglomerate, headquartered in Nanjing, China, specialising in economic cooperation and foreign trade. China Jiangsu International was founded in December 1980 and has more than 30 overseas subsidiaries, offices and branches to extend their reach and influence to roughly 80 countries around the world. According to their website, “CJI has exported chemical products, API, electrical equipment, and materials exports, exceeding a total volume of $10bn USD per year.” 

Is this a private venture or is ALA not-for-profit? How will it be paid for? It appears ALA isn’t what you’d call a completely philanthropic endeavour, to say the least. Quoth Akon: “We invest our own money to get things started. We go in, plead our case to the country, put up pilots with our own dollars using sophisticated equipment…It shows people that we’re not coming in to pull money out of the country, we’re there to provide jobs for the locals and to enable them to feed their families.” So what does he mean by this? According to the ALA website, the average investment per village is $75,000 USD and will see the partnership of public (read: government, heads of state) organisations and private firms (read: Solektra, Give1 Project, Akon Corp, Sumec, Nari, and Huawei) in order to oversee the delivery. Given the private companies getting involved and private dollars getting spent, one would expect these companies to see a return on that investment. Sure enough, Samba Bathily – one of the cofounders for ALA and head of the holding group that owns Solektra – dropped more knowledge on the subject. “It means anyone who installs our systems can make payments over [several] years. Most of these countries couldn’t allocate the money to pay for a big project up front, but they can afford if they pay by installments.” [REF.? this I think is the embedded link at ‘knowledge’ above] At this stage, one would be well pressed to make ALA out to be altruistic.

55 comments:

Unknown said...

Appreciate Good things abeg
How much have nigeria government claim to invest in power, yet no change is getting worse sef

BONARIO NNAGS said...

Like seriously why are they so pained, why didn't they take up the initiative all these while.
What of US that has been profiting from wars and tragedies they somewhat caused in Africa.
Africans don't care the source of the fund, all we need is electricity.
They should stop these campaign to discredit this welcomed development.
God bless Akon and all those sponsoring this laudable project.

~BONARIO~says so via NOKIA LUMIA

Vinnie Mcoy said...

Interesting read and not very far from the truth. China has been looking for numerous ways to sink their proverbial tooth into Africa. They are creeping in, slowly but surely.

chukudumebi said...

Akon heaven is waiting for u..when u re through with life.sin no more sir.peace.

Alloy Chikezie said...

Wouldn't this be more profitable to Africa at the long run?

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Anonymous said...

at least he is being used for a good cause because burning firewood + growing popultn aint good for the continent.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? At least SOMEONE is doing something for Africa! God bless Akon!

Unknown said...

This research looks detailed, but even if there's intentions for profit, if it's going to improve our lots in having alternatives to the almost non-existent power supply we currently have and enable most people who really want to pay for power, but do not see any - except generators - then it's a welcome development.
Whatever is better than the current situation is good for Africans. If somesomeone has to make some profit and succeed, please just don't condemn them and make it look like evil.
How many choices do we have? OR do you have a better altalternative?

Latest Online Information said...

it might be possible, we Africans don't care the source of the fund, all we need is electricity.

Anonymous said...

3y3 as3m oo

Unknown said...

I swear I don't anything wey u jst write.

Unknown said...

All good, and nice I see dis as good development dat he is b used for dis noble course. Thmbs up to him, and more power to his elbows.

Anonymous said...

Far better from the American scoundrels dat supply arms to Africa. Akon, u get mouth. God bless u plenry

Unknown said...

Learn to use ur punctuations well, u almost made sense.

Unknown said...

whoever wrote this thing is an idiot.What has he done for his own community not to talk of Africa

Anonymous said...

please africans...stop complaning......wherever the light will come from you people should welcome it .......is it not clear to you guys that there is no hope for africa without china.......can't you guys see it with your eyes. Those of us living abroad always feel for the sufferings you guys are going through. Osinabanjo has said that it will take nigeria 37years from now to have 24hrs electricity. meanwhile brazil started enjoying 24hrs electricity since 1996.

Unknown said...

if dats d case no p mak dem use am wella to our favor

Unknown said...

Hope someone will look into feeding Africa (agriculture). 0r maybe I will........

Anonymous said...

A topic of discourse. How can u see silly n coconut headed likes of aboki, iwuno n Co commenting? Cos of dia myopic n shallow mindedness, u won't see dem here. Foolish bigots. IG

Unknown said...

Our concern is not who funds the project nor if we are going to pay for it on the long run...But what matters is Africa having non stop supply of electricity....This is just a campaign of calumny against the project and the initiator(Akon) and a game towards drawing Africa backward....Instead of them telling us a better and realistic alternative and kicking it off, rather they are here castigating the on going one...AKON Please carry on joor !

Anonymous said...

No wonder Obasanjo was looking like what's this one saying

Anonymous said...

Please I read all the ranting and there is no wrong doing found di they can shut their trap...since our govt will not provide electric power, we pay so much to buy generators and diesel, so what difference if a company brings solar for sale that is effective and efficient and provides people ability for installmental pymt....all is business including tgem so called not for profit organization crap in america, Nigeria and All over the world, they use ur donation money to pay ceo's and the rest of em

Anonymous said...

Are you minding all these idiots, maybe it's some white folks who are pained that they did not think of it quicker than Akon!!

Human Being said...


They want Africa to still be in darkness. They don't want us to industrialize like china did







Human Being No Be God



Anonymous said...

Exactly, at least it will benefit Africa since our govt don't want to provide us electricity, every problem is an opportunity for the fast.

Anonymous said...

Don't mind them dumb ass, it's some greedy business men coming up with all these rant bcos the didn't think quicker than Akon...may the God of heaven and earth give me solutions to problems b4 any man thinks of it as he gave Joseph and Daniel amen.

Anonymous said...

All them white folks and others that have been making money of Africa should just get ready for God bcos he is about to turn that table around to give the wealth in their hands back to us....Empty baseless rant only bcos they did not come up with the idea sooner.

Shoqyz Blog said...

China is trying by all means to take control of Africa

Shoqyz Blog said...

Crazy

Unknown said...

Akon I hail o!👍

Anonymous said...

I hope one day Africa will realize that we have to break away from American colonialism even if that means been bought by the Chinese... I support the project 100%... I think it's better than Alqaheeda, Khamas, Alshabab and Boko Haram...gbam!!!!

Unknown said...

Well said Adaobi, I no just understand people. Linda take note!

Unknown said...

Well said Adaobi, I no just understand people. Linda take note!

prince versace said...

Whatever.

holla said...

So we re supposed to be in darkness instead? U people are not just serious, y not just appreciate the fact that china is trying to pull africa out of this backwardness by investing heavily in our continent!

Unknown said...

Keeping on going, Akon.

Unknown said...

Keep on going, Akon.

Juleslouis said...

Ermmm... So what difference does it make? All we want is steady power supply. Don't give a rat's ass where it comes from.

Anonymous said...

This man's pain obviously has no part two...how E take concern am who dey fund project wey no concern am? Ndi akpo...ride on darling akon.

Innocentia Annie said...

What matters is he did something for Africa
don't care how it came about
Why are they coming up now to blab
All those while nothing was done
Where were they?
Nice one Akon
Africa loves for this very one
Its huge

Jasmine Joseph said...

Na dem sabi

Anonymous said...

Hmm
~D great anonymous!

Anonymous said...

This is what I said from the very beginning. The figure was incredibly preposterous and sets Africa back decades. There is already a stereotype going on and that " Akon bringing energy to 600 million African" campaign just basically solidify the negative stereotype. I'm happy I'm not alone in this.

Anonymous said...

this correct

TONIA GREEN said...

What is the conclusion of this whole thing now? Don't they appreciate the good effort and offer to help? Please we need serious help in our power sector.

❤❤❤ THE PROPHETESS ❤ ❤ ❤

Anonymous said...

Akon all the way!

Unknown said...

Yes Chinese BYD and associate at works to use Akon for branding.

Anonymous said...

You make it sound like it's a bad thing.

Jolof Hearts said...

This is a lesson for all entertainers in Nigeria. If you must endorse a brand let your business sense look beyond the initial 20 milllion cheque, negotiate for shares or some form of equity. Regarding what the story has highlighted, giving the chinese so much leverage would be bad to africa. They are worse than slave traders, so nations negotiating this deal should dig deep into motives, giving 600million people access to energy is giving 600million people to the Chinese govt as the firms being alledged to be backing ALA are SOE, meaning the communist govt can decide to increase rate yearly leaving my poor village a huge burden for electricity they only use to charge injoo mobile phones

Anonymous said...

It's the gay movement people trying to shred him cos they were slighted by the 'science experiment' comments. Still all part of their 'economic blackmail ' agenda against perceived foes.

Unknown said...

I tot as much...wats d difference,we pay so much 4 electricity and we dnt enjoy it! as far as dere is stable power supply u critics can lik to take several sits abeg God bless those dat came up with dis...

Unknown said...

Oh black nigga with so power. maybe too much....

Unknown said...

Yes he's trying to help but it really it worth to africa crisis situation? More changes and action must be done. Create a wide method to increase de balance and right politic. But some organisms dig deep into motives to create slaves leveraged by preposterous rich and noble people from government in wrong beliefs...

ary said...

Is that a bad thing

Odi78 said...

Ride on Akon.

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