Akon City: What are the singer’s plans to build his own city, with its cryptocurrency

Akon City: What are the singer’s plans to build his own city, with its cryptocurrency

Senegalese-American singer Akon in an interview with the BBC on Saturday said that despite numerous disruptions, the ambitious project of building his city, Akon City, in Senegal, is moving forward.

The statement has come more than four years after the singer first revealed his plans of creating a futuristic pan-African smart city that will be developed in the mould of Wakanda — a technologically advanced fictional place in Africa depicted in Black Panther movies and comics.

However, little progress has been made since the 2018 announcement and the site where the metropolis is supposed to be built remains a “waste ground”, according to the BBC report. In the interview, the singer blamed the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic for the delay and said, “We’re trying to get the city built as fast as possible”.

The Aikon City project

Located 100 kilometres from Senegal’s capital, Dakar, Akon City will be built on 2,000 acres of land, gifted to the singer by the country’s government, said a CNN report published in 2020. It also mentioned that the project will cost around $6 billion and Akon had managed to raise one-third of the required amount.

According to the city’s official website, the metropolis will be divided into seven different districts and feature healthcare facilities, offices, luxury houses, shopping malls, skyscrapers, and eco-friendly tourist centres. The website also showcases sketches of surrealist, curvaceous skyscrapers that are said to be inspired by the shapes of traditional sculptures long made in Africa’s villages. The Akon City will run entirely on renewable energy and have native trees, flowers and man-made forests across the area.

Another important facet of the metropolis will be to provide much-needed jobs to Senegalese people. The city will train individuals to “develop the capacity and analytical skills that drive local economies, create new industries, support civil society, lead capable governments, and make critical decisions that will affect the entire economy,” the website further elaborates.

According to a report published in The Guardian in 2020, Akon hoped the city would also serve as a “home back home” for African Americans and other oppressed communities across the world.

“The system back home [in the US] treats them unfairly in so many different ways that you can never imagine,” he said. “And they only go through it because they feel that there is no other way. If you’re coming from America or Europe or elsewhere in the diaspora and you feel that you want to visit Africa, we want Senegal to be your first stop.”

The Akon City project also involves residents exclusively using Akoin, an app-based cryptocurrency, for all kinds of financial transactions. Although it has been several years since this announcement, there is no clarity about the legality of using Akoin and how exactly it will build the economy of the proposed metropolis.

In 2021, Akon officially launched his cryptocurrency but with the slump in the entire cryptocurrency market, the value of Akoin has tanked and its future remains uncertain.

Other bids to build utopian cities

Akon isn’t the first public figure to pitch the idea of developing his city. In 1981, Indian spiritual teacher Rajneesh, better known as Osho, established his city called Rajneeshpuram, which was located in Oregon, the United States. The city was spread across an area of 64,229 acres and hosted Osho’s followers from across the world. However, it quickly ran into trouble after it was revealed that its citizens and leaders were involved in a bioterror attack, murder plots, political intimidation and other criminal activities. Eventually, everyone left Rajneeshpuram and it was sold to an insurance company in 1988.

In 2019, Indian fugitive godman, Nithyananda, announced that he had created a new island nation, called Kailaasa, near Trinidad and Tobago from Ecuador. He also claimed to offer a passport and citizenship.

According to its website, “Kailaasa is a nation without borders created by dispossessed Hindus from around the world who lost the right to practice Hinduism authentically in their own countries. Kailaasa was created with the determination to not just preserve and protect Sanatana Hindu Dharma and share it with the entire world, but also to share the story of persecution that is yet unknown to the world. Towards this goal, Kailaasa is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and revival of an enlightened culture and civilization based on authentic Hinduism.”

Another example of developing a utopian area is Auroville. Founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa – known as ‘The Mother’ – it is a township located in Viluppuram district, Tamil Nadu, along with some parts in Pondicherry. In her first public message regarding Auroville in 1965, Alfassa said, “Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity.”

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