Rwandans will have to wait longer to see the solar powered systems by Akon Lighting Africa, a project of the Senegalese-American singer Alioune Badara Thiam, also known as Akon. The project seeks to use solar power to bring electricity to 600 million people in Africa.
Akon left some Rwandans hopeful for electricity and a good number of jobs during his visit to the country in July 2015 as he promised to fast-track his project in six months but it is now turning two years since then yet no single sign appears on ground for the implementation. The singer’s team has not made any official communication to the government since they took their flight from Kigali, a government official reveals to IGIHE.
Alexis Karani, Advisor to Minister of State in charge of Energy and Water at the Ministry of Infrastructure, said; “We had talks with Akon and his team during their visit to Rwanda and agreed they would submit a technical and financial proposal of the project but nothing they have got to us until now. Once they bring the proposal, we shall examine it and discuss with them on the responsibilities of each party in the project. Let’s wait and see!”
Owned by Akon, his fellow Senegalese-American Thione Niang and Malian entrepreneur Samba Bathily, Akon Lighting Africa (ALA) is operational in 14 countries and expected to expand into additional 30 countries soon, according to the project’s website. The project has a budget of $1 billion and only $240 million has been used.
Our efforts to get ALA’s comment were fruitless by press time.
While ALA keeps delaying, Karani said Rwanda has signed contracts with 24 companies dealing in solar energy systems in order to fast-track the country’s electricity rollout. He noted that the country is committed to realize the targets of providing electricity access to 70% of households (48% on-grid and 22% off-grid) by 2018.
Statistics from Rwanda Energy Group (REG) show that 31% households had access to electricity including 28% connected on grid and 3% using off-grid solutions in January, 2017.
By Jean d’Amour Mugabo