Akon, the pop star behind hits like ‘Smack That,’ is masterminding a $6 billion smart city in Africa backed by a shadowy investor. Inside Akon City, where life will be funded by ‘Akoin’ and the singer hopes to reinvent his legacy.

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There was a certain period of time, right around the year 2006, when you could barely turn on a radio in America and not hear Akon’s voice. In the era of billboard toppers like Shakira, Justin Timberlake, and Kelly Clarkson, the Senegalese-American crooner made his mark with mega hits like “Smack That” and “Lonely.”

But, as Akon told Business Insider on a recent call, that’s not what he wants his legacy to be.

“One of my biggest fears was just being known for singing and dancing,” Akon said.

Flash forward to 2020 and Akon’s music may no longer be blasting from teenage girls’ cars, but the singer has been far from inactive. He’s pivoted from churning out hip-hop and R&B hits to carving out a new identity as a tech entrepreneur in Africa. First there was his solar power company. Then came his own cryptocurrency. Along the way, he reportedly bought a diamond mine in South Africa.

Now, he’s building a $6 billion sustainable smart city in Senegal that leaves little doubt as to the star power behind it. The name? Akon City. The cryptocurrency that proposed to power it? Akoin.

“We plan to literally franchise the city,” Akon told TMZ in August of the development on the coast of the West African country where he spent part of his childhood.

The 2,000-acre waterfront oasis is being designed to serve as a hub for business and tourism, and the renderings are the stuff of science fiction. Akon City’s official website depicts a futuristic metropolis full of gleaming, twisting skyscrapers and palm trees. Residents are planned to be able to use Akoin to pay for the tram, basic utilities, business licenses, and even their taxes. And if Akon has his way, this will be the first of several more smart Akon-branded cities throughout Africa.

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One of the key players in this ambitious endeavour is Akon’s business partner, former Hollywood producer Jon Karas. Karas is president and cofounder of Akoin as well as CEO and cofounder of Akon Legacy Ventures, Akon’s business entity that encompasses his other endeavors.

“Akon City has been a dream and vision of Akon’s for probably more than a decade,” Karas told Business Insider on a recent phone call. “It was just the how and what, and having the team and resources to pull off such a massive undertaking.”

In interviews with key players in the project and experts in the tech and sustainable development fields in Africa, Business Insider delved into how this project is playing out. What we found is that Akon is helming a $6 billion project that teeters largely on a single named investor’s backing — one who has a history of lawsuits on file regarding unpaid debts. And while several of the most prominent people involved in the city’s development — including Akon — tout the city as a would-be job generator for locals, none were able to lay out a plan for how, exactly, locals would benefit from the construction of this …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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