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Akon Wakanda Futuristic City In Senegal

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by Kivi

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09.10.2020



DAKAR, Senegal — The twisting metallic skyscrapers planned for Akon City look like they could sprout on Mars in the distant future — blueprints that scream: Bring your hoverboard.

But Akon, the R&B singer who split his youth between this West African country and New Jersey, said his $6 billion eponymous development project will transform a Senegalese farming village by the decade’s end.

“I want the buildings to look like real African sculptures that they make in the villages,” Akon, 47, told a masked crowd Monday in the seaside capital, Dakar.

The Senegalese American artist, whose full name is Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam, was in town to lay the first stone in a cornfield on 2,000 acres of coastal land given to him by the Senegalese government.

Construction, he said, is set to begin early next year.

The high-profile visit capped months of increasingly lofty announcements: Akon City will run on cryptocurrency called Akoin, the performer said. It will be self-powered and environmentally friendly.

It will feature luxury condos, a beachfront resort, office parks, a university and a hospital — all of which, he told TMZ in August, “may be an hour flight, two-hour flight from anywhere in Africa.” (A typical flight from Nairobi to Dakar takes more than 10 hours.)

His website calls it “futuristic.”

A computer model of the $6-billion “futuristic” city Senegalese American singer Akon announced he plans to build a on the coast of Senegal. (KE International)

Senegalese officials applauded Akon’s vision at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has throttled the nation’s economy, stalling investment and crushing jobs.

Tourism was hit especially hard in the country of nearly 16 million, which strives to leverage its glittering Atlantic shorelines. A four-month airport closure — followed by border restrictions that now allow mostly citizens and residents to enter — has cast adrift many workers here, whose average wages are about $189 a month.

“We can show to the rest of the world that Senegal is a destination despite the impact of covid-19,” Tourism Minister Alioune Sarr said Monday as he sat beside Akon. “That Africa is a land of opportunity.”

Akon cited the experiences of Black Americans as his inspiration. He wanted to create an upscale refuge for them, he said — a home that could help connect people with African ancestry to their roots.

Ghana harnessed a similar message after the killing of George Floyd in May roused protests worldwide.

“The system back home treats them unfairly in so many different ways that you can never imagine,” Akon said. “And they only go through it because they feel that there is no other way.”

His city planners aim to hire locally and source materials from West Africa. The result will be “very, very African,” the singer said.

Yet some people took issue with the lack of Senegalese names attached to the project. The firm set to build Akon City is American. The architect who sketched the first renderings, Hussein Bakri, is based in Abu Dhabi.

“These shapes could be anywhere: Phoenix, Dubai,” said Senegalese architect Nzinga Mboup, who saw the blueprints online. “Why can’t we define our own modernity?”

Some described the tubular structures as phallic. Social media erupted in snark.

“It’s pure marketing to attract sun, sea and sex enthusiasts,” said Abdou Khadre Sanoko, a sociologist in the city of Thies.

Others questioned how the buildings — to be constructed with concrete, glass, copper and steel — matched Senegal’s warm, dry climate. Huge windows tend to invite uncomfortable heat.

“People are going to have to have the air conditioning on all day long,” said Mamy Tall, another local architect who runs the Instagram page DakarLives, which has 297,000 followers.

“The images he is publishing — there is no consideration for anything related to Senegal, to our climate, to our materials, to our needs,” Tall said. “I really hope it’s a big joke.”

At first, Akon said, he wanted to hire an architect from the region.

His solar energy company, Akon Lighting Africa, provides electricity to rural villages in 14 countries.

Akon City is meant to create a lot of jobs — and make serious money, said Derek William, director of engineering and project management at KE International, the American firm in charge of construction.

“It made a tremendous amount of business sense,” he said. “In general, when you go into less developed areas, a dollar goes so much further.”

Funding came quickly. Akon City has raised $4 billion of its $6 billion goal. (Akon said he could not name other business partners, who signed nondisclosure agreements.)

The bigger challenge is winning the community’s support, said William, whose company last built a mall and hospital in western Kenya as part of a $2 billion development on 5,000 acres.

#AkonCity, #Akoin, #WodeMaya, #AfricaToTheworld, #WakeUpAfrica, #blackpanther, #wakanda

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