In an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, the Locked Up singer, who spent most of his childhood in the West African nation, revealed the construction of the $6 billion project will commence early next year.
The 47-year-old musician, born Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, shared his plans of building the city in 2018, describing it as the as a “a real-life Wakanda” in reference to the Afro-futuristic city in Marvel’s movie, Black Panther. He also said the city will use a cryptocurrency called AKoin.
Providing more details about the project, the musician told the Associated Press he hoped it would create jobs for locals in the West African nation as well as serve a “home back home” for Black Americans and other people in the diaspora who are being racially discriminated against.
“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,” said Akon.
“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.”
The singer, who traveled to the site of the project in Mbodienne with government officials on Monday, said he has been able to acquire one-third of the $6 billion needed for the project. He, however, did not reveal the investors, saying non-disclosure agreements are in effect.
Senegal’s Tourism Minister, Alioune Sarr, also said the project couldn’t have come at a better time.
“COVID-19 has sown doubt everywhere. This means that those who had doubts about the attractiveness of Senegal, and Africa in general must convince themselves that there are men and women who believe in Africa,” he told the Associated Press.
It would take over three years for the first phase of the project to be completed once construction begins. The city will have facilities including a hotel that would have rooms designed specifically for each of the 54 African countries, a seaside resort, a tech hub, a movie hub known as “Senewood” as well as recording studios, among others.
Over the past few years, Akon has embarked on some developmental projects across the African continent. In 2014, the singer launched his Akon Lighting Africa project aimed at providing electricity by solar energy in Africa.
The initiative, which was inspired by the need to light up his grandmother’s house back in Senegal, has financed various solar lighting projects across African countries including Mali, the Republic of Guinea, Benin, Senegal, Niger, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Madagascar, and Namibia.
“It was a way of just trying to figure out what solution would be necessary to get electricity there,” Akon said about the project. “In the process, you start to realize how many people are out there lacking electricity, especially in Africa.”