Akon City – Senegal's Blockchain Metropolis in the Spotlight

Whether or not you have ever heard of a crypto city, the future indeed looks bright with a project like Akon City, which strives to bring opportunities to African nations. Today, we highlight this dynamic project brought to you by rapper Akon.

When it comes to marketing, there is one draw that guarantees widespread attention: celebrities. The cultural appeal of these individuals means that a large group of fans will follow them. In this case, fans will follow whatever their favorite influencer endorses. Whether they are active participants in the product/service or they briefly mention it, their association matters. “Wait, what? My favorite actor is talking about this? Well, then I must check it out because it has to be something special if they are name-dropping it.”

Even if what the celebrity is endorsing turns out to be mediocre at best, the company still has your attention. You looked into it, therefore the use of the celebrity in their marketing was beneficial.

Incidentally, this has become a prominent practice in the cryptocurrency industry. There is an array of celebrities who support it, like Lionel Messi, Steven Seagal, Donald Glover, and Madonna. The industry enlists popular backers for the purposes of drawing attention toward initial coin offerings (ICOs). Moreover, they’re trying to get people to focus on brand new cryptocurrencies.

Whether you see this as a genius move or a method that will lead to distraction rather than endorsement is subjective. However, one cannot deny its appeal. Among the celebrities who partake in the crypto space is an American rapper, Akon. In fact, he is going the extra mile in terms of participation. Not only does he endorse digital currency, but he is building “Akon City” in Senegal. This crypto city trades exclusively in his own digital cash currency, ‘Akoin’.

The new ‘crypto city’ in town

During the developmental stage, the singer – who is of Senegalese descent – spoke highly of the project. Claiming that the construction of his futuristic city would be on a 2,000-acre plot of land – a gift from Senegalese President, Macky Sall.

The project centered on a “100% crypto-based city with Akoin at the center of transactional life.” It integrates leading Smart City planning designs with a blank canvas for cryptonizing daily human and business exchanges. The primary goal of this city is to create a revolutionary new way of existence. The metropolis’ intent was to be Senegal’s first city with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Fast forward to last month and Akon would finalize the agreement for the new city. In a tweet on the matter, he said the following:

Just finalized the agreement for AKON CITY in Senegal. Looking forward to hosting you there in the future.”

Reports were hinting at Mbodience being the land in question. This location is a short commute from Senegal’s new international airport, clocking in at roughly five minutes. On January 14th, Akon would sign a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with SAPCO, the state-owned tourism department of Senegal.

Akon has created Akon City

According to an interview from November of last year on Power 106, Akon City is a longstanding undertaking. In Akon’s own words:

It’s a 10-year building block so we’re doing it in stages. We started construction in March [2019] and stage two is going to be 2025.”

Africa and crypto’s potential impact

Akon is not the only one who sees blockchain and cryptocurrency as something that could benefit Africa. Most experts in the field of finance believe that the future is transactional. The notable shortcomings of banks in Africa are effectively creating brand new spaces for blockchain technology to likely fill.

Risk management analyst, Rasheed Alabi, states that Africans have their own interpretation of cryptocurrency. They apparently see cryptocurrencies as a means to achieve total financial independence. With it, they could potentially escape the continent’s shaky economies. Alabi says that Africa missed out on the Internet boom.

…crypto is another opportunity for us.”

African governments have tight control over a variety of sectors, which includes banks and Internet access. With that in mind, Africa’s crypto backers are of the belief that blockchain offers a special instrument. One that the government will be unable to regulate. Alabi comments on this, stating that:

Governments around the world are already losing their voice when it comes to becoming their citizens’ financial and security advisers. People don’t trust the government anymore and the global liberalist movement is fast rising.”

A real-life Wakanda

In a Page Six report from 2018, Akon describes his creation as his way of making an impact in Africa:

I think that blockchain and crypto could be the savior for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people, and brings the security back into the currency system, and also allows the people to utilize it in ways where they can advance themselves, and not allow government to do those things that are keeping them down.”

According to the cryptocurrency’s official website, the Akon City project calls itself “real-life Wakanda.” This a reference to the city in both the Black Panther film and comics. The features within this city will be similar to everything a normal city would have. These include the likes of residential buildings, retail shops, parks, universities, and schools.

In regards to technological details pertaining to the Akoin cryptocurrency, Akon takes a more hands-off approach. He says: 

I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out.”

Akon city's Akoin token

Akoin

Akoin is the main cryptocurrency of Akon City. It is available across all 54 of Africa’s countries and is the foundation of the Akoin ecosystem. This unique global project offers a plethora of digital and real-life platforms and experiences. With them, youth entrepreneurs will gain opportunity and inclusion. The project allows consumers to buy, hold, and spend cryptocurrency right from their smartphone through a suite of blockchain apps.

The ecosystem unlocks the potential of the largest emerging economy in the world today. Through the creation of a stable currency and innovative, revenue-generating opportunities, it makes a profound impact. Not just in Africa, but the world as a whole. It supports youth entrepreneurship, the stability of the economy, and growth in Africa and the rest of the world.

The coin’s website touches upon the ever-expanding world of entrepreneurs; especially those of a younger age.

Young entrepreneurs are everywhere now. With Akoin, they have both a currency and a platform to help them make a positive economic and social impact.”

The general significance of Akon City

The African continent holds roughly 15% of the entire world’s population. Generally speaking, it is the most valuable region on the globe. Especially when you take into account resources that are both underground and above-ground.

Up to 8% of the world’s natural gas reserves are in Africa. In total, there are 45 countries on the continent that have oil reserves. What’s more, it holds the following:

  • 57% of the world’s cobalt
  • 47% of the world’s diamonds
  • 49% of the world’s manganese
  • 31% of the world’s phosphate
  • 21% of the world’s gold

For that matter, the continent also holds a tremendous amount of potential for various power sources. These include hydroelectric power, solar energy, and geothermal energy.

With this in mind, the African continent should be home to the richest countries and people. However, contrary to this assumption, Africa is the least developed continent in the world. It has 34 of the 49 poorest countries. Over 40% of its population lives on less than one dollar a day. Not only that, but Africa experiences recurring civil wars and acts of terrorism.

According to the Akoin website:

Young entrepreneurs in Africa face real hardships in creating and building businesses – problems that have hampered sustained development for too long. Global brands, likewise, face similar challenges that prevent their successful entrance and acceptance on the continent.

Over half of Africa’s population today is under 25, but despite the improvements in smartphone technology and internet access, most still face limited access to global innovation and opportunities. Currency instability and inflation and a lack of banking services are at the heart of the African entrepreneur’s dilemma. Challenges in trade and movement of money hamper growth and the need for access to high-quality education and revenue-generating opportunities are massive.”

Mixing digital with real-life

The unique ecosystem of Akon City creates the merging of digital and real-life tools. It also integrates an array of services – both digital and real-life – to motivate consumers to earn, save, and spend the cryptocurrency. At the same time, it actively provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs and brands alike. Below are four of its choice features:

  • Marketplace – This focuses primarily on entrepreneurs constructing DApps (decentralized apps) and apps that will reach Africa. It permits the earning, saving, and spending opportunities pertaining to Akoin. Moreover, there is the additional bonus of crypto discounts and reward programs for users.
  • Exchange – Multi-currency wallet and private exchange that effectively provides a secondary market for DApp crypto-currencies. Specifically, it is a market that allows them to trade in and out of Akoin. In other words, ‘consumerization’.
  • Reliable currency – Akoin is a trustworthy cryptocurrency for any transactions that occur within the marketplace. Users are able to exchange into prepaid minutes and/or local fiat currency. Overall, Akoin boasts that it is a strong and considerably less volatile currency that holds an exceptional amount of value.
  • Marketing – Massive marketing platform for a variety of brands and foundations. This level of diversity is likely to help Akoin in the long-run. By reaching out to different brands and foundations, it simultaneously increases the adoption of the Akoin and DApp/App partnership.

The platform

Indeed, the Akoin ecosystem establishes itself as being a truly powerful system. Through its design and ambitions, it is connecting brands into Africa and building entrepreneurial capability and capacity. As such, its platform should obviously be capable of handling and carrying out such tasks and goals.

1 – Currency base

This largely concerns digital currency, mobile phone, money transfers, cash in and cash out, and raffles, among others. The platform tells you your balance and the coin balance of minutes exchange, micro-lending, entrepreneur raffles, and roadmap DApps. Moreover, it has a transfer, withdrawal, and deposit option.

2 – Financial services

Such services include the establishment of credit, micro-lending, and peer-to-peer lending. The platform includes a loan application that asks for the duration (between 1 and 15 days) and displays the gross monthly income. It will also ask you how you will use the money, giving options like purchasing equipment and labor cost.

3 – Infrastructure

The Akon City infrastructure pertains mainly to solar power, WiFi, land, and technology, among other factors. The platform has a “WiFi Sharing” option that displays the total amount as well as current connections. For example, a connection that is 20 Mb would be roughly $51. Another connection that is up to 500 Mb is $150.

4 – Content/Marketing

Examples of this particular category include video, music, and advertising. A “Media Sharing” section on the platform displays the stats of the content uploader, including views, shares, and likes. While it displays your total amount, it also informs you of how much you make on a monthly basis.

5 – Professional services

Freelance, share economy, and jobs that are crypto-based are notable examples. The “Job Searching” feature shows the number of sent requests, answers, and submissions waiting for an answer. What’s more, it displays a job list at the bottom.

6 – Health, Education, and Governance

This primarily refers to health and educational services, as well as governance. The education section provides a category list, including health, languages, programming, and business. What’s more, there is a section that displays an array of tutorials in relation to the category of your choosing.

Akon City’s Vision in three parts

The overarching goal of Akon’s crypto is to motivate and ultimately activate rising entrepreneurs. With the use of both digital and real-life tools and services, it gives aspiring entrepreneurs the right tools and resources. In doing so, it aims to enable brands to unlock the true power behind the rising economy in Africa.

On the Akoin website, their vision is broken down into three parts:

  1. Empower – This is arguably the most important aspect of Akoin’s vision. The platform hopes to empower consumers to earn, spend, save, and educate themselves on cryptocurrency. At the same time, they will provide unique opportunities for both entrepreneurs and brands.
  2. Partner – The platform values partnership and they don’t limit themselves to only a handful. It offers partnership opportunities that effectively connect various brands and businesses with Africa. To reiterate an earlier point, the adoption of these partnerships increases the more brands they can reach out to.
  3. Transform – The platform aims to completely transform entrepreneurs as a whole. It plans to accomplish this by effectively blending digital and real-life experiences and marketing together.

With these three main factors, the Akoin platform provides users with an exceptionally strong crypto base. Moreover, it has the ability to offer a wide range of financial services to customers that were once unbanked. It has the potential – and aspires – to scale the infrastructure and provide the support that is necessary for fueling rising economies

Our hybrid business structure allows for brands and foundation-supported campaigns that can (if needed) be 100% tax-deductible.”

Akoin Foundation

Playing a huge part in making Akon’s vision for a better world reality is the Akoin Foundation. The purpose of this organization is to properly empower young entrepreneurs. With their efforts, up-and-coming individuals in the field will learn about building businesses and creating sustainable communities.

We believe that developing young entrepreneurs is the best way to promote innovation, economic stability, and growth across Africa, and, ultimately, the world.”

According to the foundation’s website, it focuses on four areas of programming. Their inherent design is meant to support and encourage and activate entrepreneurs. First in Africa, but as they continue to grow, they will extend to other rising economies around the world.

  1. Akoin: Blockchain for Social Good – The “flagship technology platform for entrepreneurs.
  2. Funding and Activating Entrepreneurs – Helping “socially conscious entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.” They place a heavy emphasis on gender equality and inclusion, offering unique tools including micro-to-many raffles.
  3. Education and Skills Development – Teaching the right skills in a world that is going mobile.
  4. Infrastructure for Innovation – Developing “a physical infrastructure that gives entrepreneurs a place to imagine, envision, learn, and innovate.” A safe and healthy location will do wonders when you are developing a business idea.

Map to the future

The Akoin website illustrates the roadmap that the crypto and blockchain is planning on following. A bulk of it took place last year and the remaining steps are to be taken this year and beyond.

  • January to June 2019 – Q1: Private raise (equity, token, donations) and both foundation and partner establishment. The launch of PR, media, and/or events and securing DApp/App launch partners.
  • May to September 2019 – Q2-Q3: Token of Appreciation (TOA) and the Ambassador program. Akoin Foundation is live, the TOA campaign launches, and there is the establishment of the Akoin Ambassador program. This centers on the construction of Akoin Foundation programs.
  • October 2019 to February 2020 – Q4-Q1: The launch of the token wallet and MVP platform. The distribution of a whitepaper and/or explainer video and the Akoin digital wallet and token finally going live. In addition, the deployment of Akoin Foundation programs. DApp/App partnership expansion is currently ongoing.
  • January to June 2020 – Q1-Q2: Exchange listing, platform launch, and partnerships. The Akoin platform undergoes further development before the launch. The DApp/App builder tool will also go through additional development there will be DApp/App partnership expansion.
  • 2020 onward – Akoin expansion and “Crypto City” integration. The DApp developer network will launch and there will be the integration of the “Crypto City.” There will be expansions in geography/location and strategic partnerships. The overarching goal of this portion is to complete the design of “Crypto City” and ultimately integrate it.
Akon city

Increasing interest

As previously mentioned, Akon City’s completion is estimated to be in the year 2025. However, Akoin will launch its beta platform in the near future, possibly this year. In fact, it is already accepting applications from those wanting to join the exclusive group of beta testers. This ties into the cryptocurrency team’s three-part vision, specifically the “empower” part.

They wish to supply users with the right tools and services, whether they be digital, real-life, or both. This dedication and offering of unique resources will incentivize unlocking of the power Africa’s economy possesses.

In actuality, Akon is not the only crypto mogul who is putting Africa’s well-being first. Twitter and Square CEO, Jack Dorsey, is admittedly quite silent on Akoin, however, he sees Africa as the “cryptospheric” future. Dorsey is an avid supporter of the potential integration of Bitcoin into both Twitter and Square. In November of last year, he was an attendee at a Bitcoin meetup in Nigeria. In his own words:

Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!).”

Akon and Dorsey’s views on Africa’s potential in cryptocurrency and the economy are not baseless. As a matter of fact, Nigeria regularly features among the most active countries in terms of Bitcoin Google searches. Along with it are various other African nations including South Africa.

Geographically, interest appears to be coming from Africa, with Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana forming the top three sources. Austria and Switzerland complete the top five.”

What about the whitepaper?

At the center of every cryptocurrency and blockchain is the whitepaper. This is an official document that is typically issued by new blockchain projects prior to their ICO. The purpose of these documents is to inform the reader about the new technology, product, or service that is launching. They basically help sell the crypto by providing facts, diagrams, statistics, and quotes to better illustrate their intentions.

Something that is concerning to a lot of people is the fact that, right now, Akoin doesn’t have a whitepaper. Without this document, it is difficult to tell what exactly we are in for when it officially comes out. At this stage, we are essentially going into this blind.

Regardless of the uneasiness, this elicits, the lack of a whitepaper apparently is not stopping Akon. He is still shopping his cryptocurrency around to any potential investors showing the slightest bit of interest. As you may recall, the roadmap of Akoin promotes the project seeking to raise funds through private equity and donations between January and June of 2019. This confidence is comforting to some, but it does not placate everyone’s concerns.

No whitepaper means that we cannot know for sure about the distribution of Akoins. Moreover, we do not know how the governance of the proposed network will work out. For the time being, many are remaining cautious while also celebrating this endeavor, no matter Akon’s well-meaning intentions.

Other participants

Akon is not the only musician in the rap genre that is a participant in the crypto field.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a member of the hip hop group, Wu-Tang Clan, is also a big name – albeit an unusual one – in the industry. He became indirectly linked with the industry after his son, Barsun “Young Dirty” Jones, launched a coin. The coin gets its name from Jones, being dubbed ‘Dirty Coin’. In reality, the creation of this coin was not necessarily about investing; rather, it was mostly about marketing. It was being used as a fundraiser for Jones’ first album.

50 Cent did not create a digital coin as Jones did, but he is associated with crypto in a different way. In early 2018, he made headlines after claiming he apparently “forgot” about $8 million in Bitcoin holdings. However, he would go on to deny the claims to a judge several weeks later. He explains:

When I first became aware of the press reports on this matter, I made social media posts stating that ‘I forgot I did that’ because I had in fact forgotten that I was one of the first recording artists to accept bitcoin for online transactions.”

DJ Khaled is another figure in the crypto industry, once being a participant with the Centra (CTR) token. This would, however, go on to be deemed a fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

While Akon is not the only rapper whose name is attached to crypto, it is safe to say that he stands out. He has his own coin, like Jones, but he is going the extra mile in his endeavors.

Conclusion

Even though his rise to worldwide fame was thanks to his music, Akon speaks heavily about giving back to the community. He is also an active participant in an array of humanitarian projects. In recent years, the rapper has been concentrating on transferring his career focus to African communities.

Akoin and Akon City are not the first time he was involved with this cause. Back in 2014, he launched a project going by the name of ‘Akon Lighting Africa’. His intent with it was to solve electricity shortage issues that are prevalent in Africa. Thanks to him, roughly 18 African countries have access to solar power solutions.

Even without an available whitepaper, Akon’s enthusiasm for Akon City and Akoin is infectious. It is difficult to ignore his dedication to the project and to his contributions to the African community. When it comes to his career, his humanitarian efforts, and his crypto creation, he says:

Start your career with what you’re great at… not what you want to do. Build your career then chase your passion.”

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