Akon was all over the radio 15 years ago. His mainstream success is undeniable, and you’ve probably been forced to listen to his songs in the car or at weddings and other functions whether you like it or not. Timeless tunes like “Locked Up” and “Smack That” get stuck in my head for days at a time haunting me for no particular reason until they are long forgotten again. Well, Akon channeled his success into philanthropy and infrastructure building in Africa, using his wealth and influence to fertilize his Senegalese roots.

Although Akon hasn’t been putting out any relevant music lately, he has been grinding with Afrocentric investments. His new cryptocurrency Akoin is the latest endeavour tied with his dream of founding the world’s first completely crypto-based economy. The backstory here is that after growing up in both Senegal and the US and achieving fortune and fame, the musician was given three square miles of land outside Senegal’s capital city of Dakar to create his very own Akon City. A brand new vision of a city on the Atlantic shore, run purely on cryptocurrency as a gleaming example of what can be achieved if people buy into the system of virtual coins. 

Akon City has the full support of the government and Senegal President Macky Sall to transform the area into a tourist destination and Africa’s new crypto hub of the future. Citing design inspiration from Wakanda in Black Panther, phase one of ambitious construction, including infrastructure for the city, is projected to be finished by 2023. Final estimated costs are somewhere around $6 billion, with a possible completion date in 2030. Akon was quoted on the city’s flashy website saying , “AKONCITY is an extension of the sea into the land with waves diving deep into the roots of each building, making it dance on the music of AKON to celebrate the rise of AKONCITY reflecting nothing but happiness bringing no less than success.” 

This is built on the idea of blockchain technology, afrofuturistic aesthetics and principles, and the power of innovation.  According to their website’s FAQ: “Akoin is … designed to fuel rising entrepreneurs in Africa and beyond. Akoin will be used as a common medium of transfer between Africa’s 54 countries (each with its own volatile currency). Allowing African citizens and entrepreneurs to engage with the digital economy with only a mobile phone.” The currencies in Africa are unstable and this could allow for businesses in Africa to thrive and disrupt aspects of political and economic corruption that is rampant there. 

Reports by AFP from locals in the West African country aren’t as hopeful. The delays of building Akon City are a reality, but given the enormous scope and impact of innovations like this it’s important for Senegal and the world to be patient and believe in the possibility of it working out for Akon City. According to a World Bank metric, around 40% of the 16 million population are surviving below the poverty line in Senegal. Cryptocurrency is known to create wealth quickly (though also volatile in it’s own way), which could be the boost that their economy needs to thrive. Akon CIty is teamed up with many groups to provide job training and community building practices that bring resources to the area. This isn’t just the latest fad coin. There is a purpose behind it and a whole city with the makings of a new kind of society with Akon on the flag. Hopefully it works and the repercussions are wins and dividends, so we can all get rich for nothing online and retire at a beach in Senegal.