West African energy group gets $200,000 boost from Akon

Akon with former leaders of Ghana and Nigeria, John Kufuor and Olusegun Obasanjo

The Akon Lighting Africa initiative has pledged to support the newly created Western African Energy Leaders Group (a regional branch of the African Energy Leaders Group) with USD 200 000 dollars .

This significant financial commitment has just been made by the three co-founders of Akon Lighting Africa, music star Akon, speaker and international youth leader Thione Niang and entrepreneur Samba Bathily, at the end of the opening meeting of this group which took place in Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire.

This meeting gathered all countries of the western African region. With such platform, western African political and business leaders demonstrate their commitment to ensure as quickly as possible access to energy for all and bring together public and private actors to that end through innovative and integrated approaches.

Akon Lighting Africa’s financial allocation should help the Western African Energy Leaders Group to take its first steps and set up its secretariat. According to Akon, “the creation of this group brings evidence of a very strong commitment ; the countries of the western African regional are ready to tackle the electrification issue and want to work together to identify and propose fast solutions”.

He welcomed such approach and added: “It is the first time ever that countries adopt a 360° vision, looking at all issues all together – regulation, financing, power capacity sharing, regional integration, energy mix. As Africans we are very happy to see this project come to life”.

The ambition of the Western African Energy Leaders Group is to be a win-win partnership.

While governments will have to transform their commitments into relevant public policies, private operators will have the opportunity to support or enhance energy projects.

As an entrepreneur who has been working on energy projects for a very long time, Samba Bathily is happy to connect Akon Lighting Africa to this new organization: “The Western African Energy Leaders Group is very interested in our experience and the unique pre-financing model that we have developed. Access to capital is critical to implement successful energy policies. As solar solutions providers, we will be able to work with them to set up even more innovative financing solutions and define the possible regulatory reforms required to foster long term investments such as those needed for energy infrastructures”.

In Abidjan, countries have for the first time considered the region level as the relevant one to take action, which is a very new way to address energy challenge.

As mentioned by Thione Niang, « in Abidjan, President Ouattara brought together several generations of political leaders and committed businessmen from all countries – such as Mr John Kufuor, former President of Ghana, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of  Nigeria, Nigerian Vice-President Yemi Osibajo, Mr Lionel Zinsou, currently Prime minister of Bénin, and Mr Tony Elumelu, from the famous Elumelu Foundation. Without energy there is not development: this is pressing issue that they all want to address. As founders of Akon Lighting Africa, we are proud to represent a committed young generation and work hand in hand with the older generation”.

The Western African Energy Leaders Group’s roadmap will be developed with the support of Sustainable Energy For All, an initiative co-led by the United-Nations and the World Bank which has been instrumental in fostering this regional approach to energy issues. The next meeting is planned for early 2016.

In the meantime, Akon Lighting Africa will continue to expand while consolidating its presence in its 14 countries of operations. The plan is to provide solar energy solutions to 11 new countries, including Ivory Coast, by end of 2016.


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