Akon - Harnessing Diaspora Power

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It has been a busy year for Akon Lighting Africa, the initiative reached 11 countries in its first year and has brought power to more than one million Africans. This may seem like a large number, but more than 600 million Africans lack access to power so it is only a small step towards solving the problem.

This huge challenge seems to be something that is a source of motivation for Akon and his business partners Bathily and Niang. It feeds their plans to expand rapidly to reach  48 African countries by 2020.

They worked on the  initiative,  for at least a year before its launch, this meant  Akon had to put music on the backburner as he focused on the challenges and opportunities for learning.The result was the realization that not only is there a great need, but the market was large and there was limited competition.

The initiative has had  "amazing feedback," and many people want to be a part of it to understand how it was possible to do things so quickly, Akon said.

"The main answer is, you have to understand Africa," he said. Spend a lot of time in Africa, and the involvement of so many Africans as possible is important, because it will bring a better understanding of how things work,

This is not the only thing that helped.

Akon also admitted that his fame has helped to open doors. His name and the stamp of approval, gives, the governments and partners a sense of security - it created an opportunity for him to meet with presidents and ministers, and business owners.

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