Solar Academy hopes to bring electricity to 600 million people

Akon, a multi-platinum recording artist, grew up without electricity in the West African nation of Senegal.

Akon’s to do list just got a little longer. Aside from being an award winning producer and RnB singer, he’s now hoping to provide electricity to 600 million people in Africa.

“I was one of those kids you see running around with no shoes on living in straw huts,” Akon said in an interview for National Journal in 2014. “I was blessed to be able to come to the U.S. with my dad and I’ve seen a better life, but it really hurts a lot knowing that Africa has all these resources and we haven’t fully taken advantage of it.”

‘Akon Lighting Africa’ is launching a solar academy that will help African countries harness the power of the sun. The continent has 320 days of sunshine a year.

Situated in Bamako, Mali the academy is set to open this summer and says it aims to train Africans in ‘every aspect of installing and maintaining solar-powered electric systems and micro-grids.’

Akon’s hopes it will also create jobs since 70 percent of the continent’s population is under the age of 35.

The project’s partners include Solektra International, an African company specializing in solar energy and water treatment.

Alongside supplying clean energy, Akon Lighting Africa aims to be a source of sustainable employment for Africa’s relatively young population — 70 percent are under the age of 35.

Reuters and The Huffington Post contributed to this report.

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