- Rapper Akon is weighing building a smart city in the African country of Senegal with its economy reliant on his own cryptocurrency "Akoin," according to the BBC and others.
- Akon, who is of Senegalese descent, said his cryptocurrency would help build a "real-life Wakanda" called Akon Crypto City, based on the fictional African settlement in the Black Panther franchise of comics.
- The rapper reportedly said at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity that cryptocurrency and blockchain could be “the savior of Africa in many ways,” as he said it would help fuel entrepreneurship and security.
This concept represents an intriguing project by Akon, who has already developed a philanthropic streak in Africa through his Akon Lighting Africa project, which provides solar power to 18 countries on the continent and has earned praise from the United Nations. According to a website touting his new smart city, Akon Crypto City would be built on 2,000 acres of land gifted to him by Senegal’s president, close to the airport and the capital city Dakar and blend "leading Smart City planning designs with a blank canvas for cryptonizing our daily human and business exchanges, with the goal of inventing a radical new way of existence."
Although this project is light on specifics right now, as Akon himself admitted at Cannes that he will "come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out," it is not the first from-scratch smart city to be discussed. Bill Gates has floated one near Phoenix, while the recently-announced Japan-Thailand Millennium Town has similar ambitions to use technology and improve the lives of local citizens.
The plan certainly has good intentions, and its references to Wakanda will not be lost on those who watched the recent "Black Panther" movie and saw an incredible amount of urban development brought on by the country using the fictional metal vibranium for innovations like maglev trains and autonomous vehicles (AVs). Blockchain and cryptocurrency have previously been spoken of as a possible harbinger of more innovation in cities, so perhaps Akon’s proposal will encourage similar work in Senegal.