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Akon Metropolis, rapper Akon’s lofty plans for a pan-African crypto-powered smart city in Senegal, has not moved beyond the laying of a ceremonial stone in 12 months.
While Akon promoted the city in 2018 as a futuristic city inspired by the Marvel film Black Panther that would emerge as a “beacon of innovation and human development” and bolster the West African and Senegalese economies, there are few signs of development beyond a ceremonial stone laid in a field near Mbodiene a year ago.
According to a report from Agence France-Press, the project has not progressed beyond the stone’s erection, with a small placard promoting Akon City having since fallen from its perch on top of the block.
Akon estimated that the city would have a police station, garbage centre, solar power plant, shopping centre, hospital, and school by 2024, with the project expected to be completed by 2030.
Senegalese residents appear to be getting increasingly dubious about Akon City, the popular artist and producer Akon’s proposal for a $6 billion Pan-African “smart city” with a crypto-powered economy near the Senegalese village of Mbodiene.
The report cites Mbiodene locals who had high hopes for a surge in employment and economic activity who now know little of why Akon City’s development has stalled. 35-year-old local, Jules Thiamane, stated:
“They laid the foundation stone with a lot of speeches and promises. Compared to everything that was announced, I don’t think we have seen much yet.”
Not everyone has given up on Akon City however, with the president of the Mbodiene village youth association, David Seck Sene, stating: “I still have hope. I don’t see how a project like this could stop tomorrow.”
Philomene Bamimba, head of a local women’s association emphasized the economic benefits the city’s construction could bring for Mbodiene, “This is big for us,” she said.
According to Paul Martin of the US-based engineering firm KE International, which won the contract to build Akon City, more than $4 billion in finance has been raised for the project.
Martin disclosed that the project’s principal investor is Kenyan entrepreneur Julius Mwale. Construction is expected to begin in October, following the completion of another Mwale-funded community in Kenya.
Martin went on to say that the first 12 months of work on Akon City were spent on “planning, approvals, procurement, and subcontractor recruitment.”
According to the World Bank, more than one-third of Senegal’s 16 million people are currently poor.