Akon City


David Mohrmann, Editor

Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam, more commonly known as the singer Akon, behind popular hits such as “Lonely,” is moving forward with plans of building a $6 billion dollar smart city in Senegal by the name of Akon City. Akon was born in St. Louis to a Muslim family, but he spent a significant part of his childhood in Senegal, which he describes as his “hometown.” At age seven, he moved with his family to Union City, N.J., splitting his time between the United States and Senegal until settling in Newark, N.J. Growing up in New Jersey, Akon had difficulties getting along with other children. When he and his older brother reached high school, his parents left them on their own in Jersey Cityand moved the rest of the family to Atlanta, Ga. 

Akon does not want his legacy to be “just being known for singing and dancing,” and he has worked hard to create a new identity as a tech entrepreneur in Africa. In February of 2014, Akon Lighting Africawas created and has provided 14 African countries with street lamps and plans on helping even more. In addition, Akon has his own cryptocurrency, Akoin, and has also bought a diamond mine in South Africa. His newest venture is building a $6 billion city, Akon City, powered by his cryptocurrency Akoin.

Akon City is scheduled to be built on the Senegalese coastline about 62 miles south of Dakar, Senegal’s capital,  and 35 miles from Dakar’s new international airport. Dakar is home to about 3.1 million people and currently has its tallest building standing at 250 feet, while Akon Tower, Akon City’s centerpiece, would stand at nearly 985 feet. Akon said that the 2,000-acre city would include a luxury resort, condos, offices, a hospital, a stadium, and an artificial-intelligence data center. The lead architect for this project and CEO of Dubai’s Bakri and Associates Development, Hussein Bakri, states that the city would be built from traditional construction materials as well as new materials developed specifically for Akon City. These materials include a lightweight steel and glass that generate energy. A transportation system will also run both above ground and underwater. Bakri argues that while some of the plans for the city may seem far fetched, “in 25 years, all the normal buildings will be looking like this.” 

This endeavor is being backed by Akon’s business partner, Jon Karas. Karas is the president and co-founder of Akoin as well as the CEO and co-founder of Akon Legacy Ventures, which is the organization that encompasses his other pursuits. KE International, an American company, has been given the contract to build this city and has already secured $4 billion for the first and second phase of the project. A large step in turning Akon City into a reality was getting the support of the Senegalese government. Karas says this was a “multi-year process,” but they eventually obtained the backing of Senegalese President Macky Sall.

According to KE International, the first phase of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2023, will result in the construction of roads, a shopping center, residences, hotels, a police station, a school, a landfill for the city’s waste and a solar power plant to supply the whole city. The second phase of the Akon City project is scheduled to begin in 2024 and be completed in 2029. Within 10 years of the start of construction, the plan is for Akon City to be completed and running exclusively on Akoin.