The Akon City project is one step closer to becoming a reality after Senegalese-American singer Akon and the Government of Senegal have signed an agreement to build the city. The initial project was first revealed two years ago and it consisted of a complete new urban complex within 5 minutes of Senegal’s Blaise Diagne International Airport. The city, named Akon City, would feature a cryptocurrency-based economy where payments and transactions would be done using digital currencies, primarily the artist’s own Akoin.
The agreement was announced on social media by the artist. "Just finalized the agreement for Akon City in Senegal," Akon said recently. "Looking forward to hosting you there in the future." Akon's reveal came days after Africanews.com reported a signing ceremony for a memorandum of understanding between the signer and state-owned tourism company SAPCO had taken place. "Beyond his status as an artist, it is Akon, the investor who believes in Africa (signing up to the agreement)," the tourism ministry said.
The singer initially announced plans to create a city in the west African country at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in 2018. As reported by Cointelegraph, the project portends a “100% crypto-based city with Akoin at the center of transactional life.” The metropolis would become Senegal’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified city. It is set on a 2,000-acre parcel gifted by the Senegalese president some 120 kilometres south of the capital Dakar.
Regarding the location, reports hint at Mbodience, a short drive from Senegal’s new international airport, as the land in question. According to an interview from November on radio station Power 106, Akon City is a long-term undertaking. “It’s a 10-year building block so we’re doing it in stages. We started construction in March  and stage two is going to be 2025,” Akon said.
Just finalized the agreement for AKON CITY in Senegal. Looking forward to hosting you there in the future pic.twitter.com/dsoYpmjnpf
— AKON (@Akon) January 13, 2020
The project is led by the artist’s organisation Akoin, which is an emerging cryptocurrency and DApp ecosystem. They defined themselves as “a cryptocurrency powered by a marketplace of tools and services fueling the dreams of entrepreneurs, business owners, and social activists as they connect and engage across the rising economies of Africa and beyond; created by visionary global artist, change-maker, innovator and humanitarian, Akon.”
But Akoin, according to its website, will soon launch its beta platform. It’s the foundation of the Akoin team’s three-part vision to empower “rising entrepreneurs with digital and real life tools and services; and enabling brands to unlock the power of Africa’s rising economy.”
Speaking to Newsweek in 2018, and collected by dezeen media, Akon said that he hoped that the city would be the first of many that uses cryptocurrency – a digital currency based on blockchain, which is a set of digital records that track transactions chronologically and publicly.
"With the Akoin we are building cities, the first one being in Senegal. We're securing the land and closing out all the legislation papers for the city. We want to make it a free zone, and cryptocurrency-driven as a test market," he said.
"If it works, we will scale it out to all the other countries in Africa so all the cities are connected. It's going to be a 50- to 100-year project, most likely. I probably won't even live to see it finished. But for the project in Senegal, we have a 10-year deadline for that city to be built out."
Akon may not be alone as a pro-Africa crypto mogul. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey views Africa broadly as the cryptospheric future. Cointelegraph reported last year that Dorsey, who has pledged integration of Bitcoin into both Twitter and Square, attended a Bitcoin meetup in Nigeria. He said, “Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!).”
The singer’s own crypto project Akoin also announced that it has entered into a strategic alliance with the universal smart addressing platform for navigation and location-based services, UNL. Together, they aim to establish a pan-African digital mapping and addressing infrastructure.
According to the press release, the Akoin and UNL partnership will help provide services like e-commerce and delivery through digitalized platform. Plans to implement smart city applications for more sustainable and inclusive communities will also get a boost.
UNL expressed their belief that this collaboration would help transform Akoin’s vision for unifying Africa as a market into reality.
“UNL is made to connect the unconnected and unlock the economic potential of locations. We believe our collaboration will enable many regions across the continent for the digital economy and empower brands. And also entrepreneurs to deliver new hyper-local services and applications to any location,” Xander van der Heijden, CEO of the universal smart addressing platform, said.
One of the ways cryptocurrencies and this kind of alliance can help Africa is not only by powering entire smart cities by also by providing digital solutions for those without an address. To get the perspective, over 440 million people in Africa were without even an address, which is a critical and basic socio-economic tool.
The platform claimed their expertise would help provide these people with a personalized and unique digital address. They would assign them with a custom name, along with adding and managing private metadata and last-mile navigation information.
Hernaldo Turrillo is a writer and author specialised in innovation, AI, DLT, SMEs, trading, investing and new trends in technology and business. He has been working for ztudium group since 2017. He is the editor of openbusinesscouncil.org, tradersdna.com, hedgethink.com, and writes regularly for intelligenthq.com, socialmediacouncil.eu. Hernaldo was born in Spain and finally settled in London, United Kingdom, after a few years of personal growth. Hernaldo finished his Journalism bachelor degree in the University of Seville, Spain, and began working as reporter in the newspaper, Europa Sur, writing about Politics and Society. He also worked as community manager and marketing advisor in Los Barrios, Spain. Innovation, technology, politics and economy are his main interests, with special focus on new trends and ethical projects. He enjoys finding himself getting lost in words, explaining what he understands from the world and helping others. Besides a journalist, he is also a thinker and proactive in digital transformation strategies. Knowledge and ideas have no limits.