Despite being the second most populated continent, Africa's majority populace is rurally settled. Prospects, however, show that Africa's urban settlement is going to be flooded in the next few years due to rapid industrial growth in the continent. This era will witness a massive development of smart cities in Africa, with the recent public interest being on Akon's city to be developed in Senegal. Aliaune Damala Badara Thiam is a Senegalese-American singer, rapper, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and actor from New Jersey famously known by his stage name Akon. Akon has an unquenchable desire to create a similar form of Wakanda, the modern African realm depicted in Marvel's Black Panther, a smart city in his home country.
Akon city is a $6 billion futuristic smart sustainable city planned to be on a vast 2000 acres of land overlooking the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, 62 miles from Dakar, on a coastal town known as Mbodiene. The city, meant to serve as a tourism and business hub, will incorporate gleaming structures that twist and bend like waves flavoured with palm trees to give great aesthetic pleasure. Akon, the musician-turned-tech entrepreneur, says the city will be solar-powered with Akoin cryptocurrency as the only acceptable means of transactions. The master plan has been successfully drawn by a Dubai-based architect – Hussein Bakri – and the $6 billion for construction bagged by KE International, a US-based construction firm.
The construction, which had been scheduled to see its groundbreaking phase in early 2021, is yet to be commenced as per a verified source. Hussein Bakri says the city will be built from a blend of traditional construction materials and new material developed explicitly for Akon city. It will be built in two phases whereby, the first phase is scheduled for completion in 2023 and the second is expected to run as from early 2024 till late 2029 for due completion. The first phase will see the construction of roads, hospitals, university campuses, hotels, schools, residences, police station, waste facility and a large solar-powered plant. The second and last phase will involve the construction of an industrial complex, a stadium and parks. The development will then be finalized with a complete cryptocurrency-run city set to be inaugurated from 2030.
Akon says the completion of the $6 billion project will create a haven for African-Americans living in the diaspora where there have been so many racial injustices. He says, “A project like this will give them the motivation to know that there’s a home back home.” What remains a predicament for the Senegalese locals is to whom the project will be beneficial. It is undeniable that the high-class residences to be built in this city will be affordable to those rich enough to get a flat, hence the average to low income Senegalese will not benefit from living in the new futuristic city. What has even raised more concerns is how an African-based project had to be handled by a Dubai-based architect and a US-based construction firm. This has raised questions over whether really in Africa none could have been believed to be capable of the architectural design and or the construction management. The local Senegalese is also apparently seeming not to benefit, as a few of the locals can afford a smartphone to be able to do cryptocurrency-based transactions. Is Africa going to witness fiction to reality transition as we welcome the new era of smart cities? Is Akon City still realizable here in Africa?
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