Akon wants to build a pharaonic smart city in Senegal

Akon is famous for having been an ultra-popular RnB singer during the 2000s, notably with his singles Lonely or Smack That with Eminem. In recent years, the man does not really rock the charts but remains very busy.


Of Senegalese origin, the singer is now working to build an ecological and futuristic city on the coast of his country of heart, about a hundred kilometers from Dakar. The budget for the project, called “Akoncity”, is close to 6 billion dollars, or a little over 5 billion euros.


This is not the first time that the ex-singer has ventured into African business. He already owns a solar energy company and a diamond mine in South Africa. But this is the first time he has embarked on a project of this magnitude, this time alongside his partner Jon Karas, a Hollywood producer.


Akon embraces the comparison: his city aims to become a kind of real-world Wakanda, referring to the prosperous and technologically advanced country of the Black Panther comic book. Heaped with futuristic buildings, Akoncity is expected to run on Akoins, a crypto-currency also named after its creator.


First Akonpierre laid

If the project has all the trappings of a gigantic publicity stunt, it is nevertheless very real. The Senegalese Minister of Tourism Alioune Sarr went to the site on August 31 with the singer to lay the first stone of the site.


The construction site will be managed by the American firm KE International, based on plans by Hussein Bakri, a Dubai architect. Phase 1, the construction of the necessary infrastructure and buildings, is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, and the city is scheduled to be finished in 2029.


To complete the project, KE International has so far raised four billion dollars of the six billion dollars needed, mainly from Kenyan businessman Julius Mwale. But according to Business Insider, Mwale has a history of not paying his debts.


After fleeing his country to the United States for unclear reasons, Mwale settled in New York, where he has faced three lawsuits for fraudulent loans and non-payment. Another problem raised by the U.S. site is that no one seems to agree on who will move into the walls of Akoncity, which is currently just a piece of empty land.


According to its architects, it will be “open to everyone,” thanks to 30% low-rent housing. According to Karas, businessmen and businesswomen will live there, as well as “Europeans who are looking for a place to stay”. For his part, Akon believes that it is the elite of Senegalese society that will reside there, and that the rest will follow.

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