Akon Lighting Africa initiative co-founders see ADSW as opportunity to cement partnerships and engage youth on sustainability
Abu Dhabi, UAE – 13 January, 2016: Grammy-nominated American singer, rapper, and solar energy entrepreneur Akon will join his Solektra International partners Samba Bathily and Thione Niang at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), the Middle East’s largest gathering focused on sustainability. The group will represent Akon Lighting Africa (ALA), a Solektra International’s initiative to bring renewable and affordable energy to rural communities in Africa.
Akon – an avid supporter of efforts to engage youth in a dialogue on sustainability –will bring his unique brand of star power to The Student Exclusive, a first-of-its-kind ADSW event dedicated just for students studying across the UAE. As part of the 19 January event, he will participate in an exclusive interview and will address the high schools from around the world who are finalists of the 2016 Zayed Future Energy Prize.
The Akon Lighting Africa initiative founders see ADSW as a key opportunity to build the partnerships that can help deliver sustainable energy for Africa. Commenting on his participation in ADSW, Akon said: “The urgency of delivering sustainable energy access to the 600 million Africans with no electricity access is the message we took to the Paris Climate Change conference in December. We see ADSW – the first global gathering on sustainability since COP 21 – as a great opportunity to transition the historic agreement reached at Paris into action to deliver a brighter future for Africa.”
“For us, ADSW is a key platform to broker the connections and public-private partnerships needed to accelerate the electrification of Africa. This issue is high on the global agenda. What we need now is direct financing towards the most impactful projects, especially microgrids for rural communities.” said Solektra International’s co-founder and CEO Bathily.
“Sustainable energy is vital for development and inclusive, fast-track growth in Africa. It will determine Africa’s ability to unleash its full potential and improve living conditions,” added Solektra International’s co-founder and vice-president Niang.
Akon’s relationship with ADSW and the Zayed Future Energy Prize began last May, when he attended the SE4All summit in New York. While there he discussed energy access in Africa with Dikirani Thaulo, a graduate of the Zayed Solar Academy set up by Nkhata Bay School Authority, a Global High Schools Zayed Future Energy Prize winner in 2014.
Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, said: “Bringing light to Africa is critically important, and ADSW presents the perfect platform to connect those individuals and organisations whose work is focused on achieving this goal. Past winners of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, such as M-KOPA and D.Light.Design, have had significant impact in illuminating hard-to-reach communities in Africa through their pioneering innovations.”
About Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week
“Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) is the largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East — a ground-breaking global forum that unites thought leaders, policy makers and investors to address the challenges and opportunities of renewable energy and sustainable development through dialogue and action. With a new mandate to confront climate change achieved at the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21), ADSW 2016 is promoting multilateral cooperation and bold decision making to accelerate the adoption of the sustainable solutions needed to realise the economic aspirations of future generations and to accommodate rapid global population growth.”
Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company which works to advance the development, commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions. The company serves as a link between today’s fossil fuel economy and the energy economy of the future. Wholly owned by the Mubadala Development Company PJSC, the strategic investment company of the Government of Abu Dhabi, Masdar is dedicated to the United Arab Emirates’ long-term vision for the future of energy and water. For more information please visit: www.masdar.ae or connect with Masdar at facebook.com/masdar.ae and twitter.com/masdar. For further media enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About Solektra International
Incorporated in New York, United States, and with offices in a number of African countries, Solektra International is focusing on two business strategies to promote African development: the use of solar power to provide access to clean water and electricity. Founded by Samba Bathily, Akon and Thione Niang, Solektra International is one of a new generation of African businesses that are investing in driving growth and employment throughout Africa in association with numerous leading international partners. Solektra International currently has a presence in 15 countries – Mali, Senegal, Niger, Benin, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina-Faso, the Republic of Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Nigeria, Madagascar, Namibia and Kenya.
About the Solektra Solar Academy
Launched in December 2015 in Bamako, Mali, by Solektra International, the Solektra Solar Academy was created to develop a solar energy work force for Africa. The Solektra Solar Academy aims to build capabilities to support inclusive growth throughout the continent. The Solektra Solar Academy’s first courses start in 2016; the goal is to train a minimum of 200 skilled workers, technicians and engineers every year.
About Akon Lighting Africa
Akon Lighting Africa aims to provide tangible solutions to the African energy crisis and create a future for Africa. This initiative launched in February 2014 by international music star Akon, entrepreneur Samba Bathily and youth leader Thione Niang has one clear objective: to use innovative solar solutions to provide villages throughout Africa with access to clean electricity. Thanks to its public-private partnership model and network of world class partners, in under a year, this initiative has driven a series of high quality solar developments including the installation of street lamps, domestic and community kits in many countries throughout Africa.
Instagram : AkonLightingAfrica
A Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum selling artist, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Akon is one of the world’s most influential voices in music today. In addition to having two multi-platinum albums, 27 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and over 150 guest appearances with artists such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Eminem and Gwen Stefani, Akon is the first artist to hold both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 charts twice.
The son of two Senegalese natives, Akon was born Aliaune Badara Thiam, in St. Louis and raised in Senegal, West Africa until age 7. His father, Mor Thiam, a well-respected Senegalese percussionist and jazz musician, and mother, Kiné, a renowned African singer, dancer and humanitarian, helped to foster a general love of the arts in Akon as well as a deep appreciation of his heritage and homeland. Their influences fuelled his desire to create a better future for Africa, beginning with empowering its youth.
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