Why We shouldn't Trust Akon and his 'Akoin' cryptocurrency

Global sensation Akon has announced that he will be launching his own cryptocurrency called Akoin.

The rapper who made at the announcement at the Cannes Lion festival also announced his strategy to better the conditions in Africa.

According to Akon, blockchain technology will help improve the conditions in Africa. He said that blockchain technology could be a savior for Africa because it gives power back to the people and it brings back security into the currency system.

He added that it allows people to use in a way that they can improve themselves and not allow the government to do things that are keeping them down.

The rapper also plans on creating a 100% cryptocentric city called Akon Crypto City. Akon plans on using 2000 acres of land that will be supplied by the President of Senegal to build the city that aims to be like a real-life Wakanda.


The new Akon Crypto City describes itself as a “100% crypto-based city with Akoin at the center of transactional life [...] blend[ing] leading Smart City planning designs with a blank canvas for cryptonizing our daily human and business exchanges, towards inventing a radical new way of existence.”

Akon, who has already been involved with bringing solar power to Africa through his Lighting Africa project, said that bringing cryptocurrency to Africa can help empower its public:

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.”

When asked about the specifics of the technology, Akon demurred, noting, “I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out.”

The singer also mentioned the possibility of his running for U.S. president in 2020, imagining a future debate between himself, current president Donald Trump, and rapper Kanye West:

“And the debate stage will be set where it’s all about me. It’s perfect, a masterplan. I’m going to come in with a team so crazy, man, it’s all going down. I’m not holding my tongue. The way I look at it, win or lose, at least I get the movement going, I get the conversation going.”

Besides the singer obviously ambitious plan to save Africa and Save America all the while making his cryptocurrency "wakanda" I think before getting caught up in the hype it's best to check on his first idealistic mission, "Electrify Africa"  - Lets see what we can find out.

In just three years, the Akon Lighting Africa initiative has supposedly completed 203,200 small-scale solar projects including the installation of miniature grids and street lighting across 17 African countries. - according to The financial engine and IPO candidate behind the venture, Solektra International LLC, is owned by its three co-founders, including Akon. Pilot projects in Brazil are already underway with expansion plans for China and India, according to the singer, who said his “dream” is to eventually build a solar farm in the U.S.

Since doing research into Akon solar farm projects, I've had some major difficulties actually finding data or evidence of this 203,000 small scale solar panels so I have no way of either confirming or denying this claim, what I do know is that Solektra's promise of connecting 600 million Africans to power is one mammoth task but is not surprising considering its other ambitious promises.

Most think this ambitious goal of 600M people is achievable due to ALA’s $1bn line of credit and the substantial political networking ALA has already done to get this realised. which raises some questions like who did ALA get financed by?

Who is funding ALA? ALA has been provided a $1bn line of credit via China Jiangsu International, a state-owned international conglomerate, headquartered in Nanjing, China, specialising in economic cooperation and foreign trade. China Jiangsu International was founded in December 1980 and has more than 30 overseas subsidiaries, offices and branches to extend their reach and influence to roughly 80 countries around the world. According to their website, “CJI has exported chemical products, API, electrical equipment, and materials exports, exceeding a total volume of $10bn USD per year.”

This is why it seems valid to question why Akon chose to do business with China Jiangsu, a state owned company that had sanction proceedings brought against them by the World Bank in 2014, which brought with it a period of ineligibility. From February 2014 until February 2017, China Jiangsu are barred from standing in contract bids for World Bank projects or “otherwise participate in new activities in connection with” World Bank projects. Bear in mind, Akon said one of the advantages of dealing with China Jiangsu was “to be able to go into a lot of countries and pretty much start the project immediately without having to go through the World Bank” but questions about China Jiangsu’s controversial involvement in Ethiopia and why ALA chose to look past that still remain.

On top of all this, there don’t appear to be any companies outside of Chinese organizations supplying ALA’s solar panels and equipment at present. Is it really sensible to provide equipment from one source when the solar power industry is far more diverse? Would it not be better for the future of these students in ALA’s solar academy in Mali to engage them with the latest and greatest in solar power technology being used worldwide? Finally, the United States placed steep import duties on solar products from China and Taiwan in 2014 in an effort to reduce anti-dumping and to make it even harder for Chinese producers to dodge duties imposed on them from 2012. Would it be reasonable to conclude that the ALA project is a grandiose yet convenient way around said duties for companies like China Jiangsu?

Who pays for the infrastructure?

Given the fact that ALA is merely fronting the capital to start with and governments are taxpayer-funded by the people, one could conclude that the cost burden falls on the people to pay off. On one hand, it seems a worthy investment. On the other, could one really consider it ethical to be loaning money to a country that isn’t wealthy enough to pay for the project up front? I leave that to you to decide.

Now here are where the concerns lie amidst all of the wonderful things Akon Lighting Africa are promising and why some might feel compelled to label Akon’s venture "imperialist".

What are the conditions under which Akon is borrowing a billion dollars from the Chinese?  Other countries have been investing in Africa for centuries, typically to the detriment of the country.  These nations are known for stripping Africa of its most important natural resources and taking wealth abroad while fattening the pockets of local leaders.  Is Akon’s project different?

According to CongoForum.com, some of these agreements with the Chinese can lead to far more employment for Chinese citizens than Africans.

More than 95% of all China’s programs in Africa have a clause that stipulates one breathtaking agreement: all infrastructure-related programs are required to have 70% Chinese contracted personnel. Only 30% of the people hired in these infrastructure programs are Africans. Last time I checked, equality means 50-50, not 70-30. Moreover, while the African governments choose where the infrastructure is needed, they have to pay back the money in natural resources, and are practically forced to give employment to thousands of Chinese instead of Africans.

The article also accuses Chinese firms of making products in Africa, and then dumping these cheap products into African markets, putting business people in the continent out of work.   So, imagine what Walmart might do to a small town.   Some also claim that Chinese investment in Africa is giving the Chinese government more power to control affairs in Africa and decisions of political leaders.

Akon’s political stances are undoubtedly controversial. He already owns a diamond mine in South Africa, so as far as having business interests on the continent goes, this isn’t his first venture. While owning a diamond mine is problematic in its own right, Akon’s outlook on the politics of the diamond trade certainly make for interesting discussion. When asked about “conflict” diamonds and those criticizing the ethics of the trade, Akon said to MTV: “They are talking about it and haven’t even been there. What are they talking about? They are talking about what they heard in the press and on TV, what they are seeing in the movie.” When asked about the situation writ large – the claims that four million people died in wars funded by blood diamond trade – Akon responded with: “I’m sure in certain mines and in certain areas, there’s probably some illegal activity going on so I will not sit there and defend no mine, period. But at the same time, in any corporation there is a lot of illegal activity going on. If I had to put emphasis on anything, I would talk about the damn oil. I would call that ‘blood oil.’ The oil is killing more people. Diamonds are the least of our worries. All that (attention on blood diamonds) is really to (distract) you from what is really going on.”

Taking this into account, consider Akon’s remarks on ALA’s methods for persuading leading politicians: “In Africa, you’ve gotta manipulate them. You have to. You have to trick ‘em. No, like, really: You’ve gotta trick ‘em.” This is in reference to reports that ALA has resorted to “manipulating” the electoral system in countries where they plead their case. Often, ALA has pitched to these officials right around the time they are campaigning in an election. Using the villages they have already invested in as an example, they lean upon the candidates to pressure them to include it in their campaign promises. Akon was quoted saying: “Once that village was lit up, now the neighbouring villages would bring pressure to the government and ask those same questions, ‘How come we ain’t lit up?’” While these manoeuvres may well have positive intentions, one feels compelled to look at the bigger picture.

I think if this is what we can expect from further ventures from Akon then I say this with the ut-most confidence; "Do your research!"

Upon visiting Akoins website, I found nothing but disappointment. Everything from its presentation, Team composition to it's vague and non specific way of really letting you know how it works and what the technology is based on, only that "blockchain technology" would some how save Africa, the biggest issue here is that despite it being announced and already allowing investors, there's no sign of a white paper or any spoke person from AKoin to talk about the technical function of the token or at the very least what blockchain technology is it using?  - if you go onto the website you are bombarded with stunning photos of Africa, neat graphics that give you easy to understand information but how accurate that info is, unfortunately is anyone's guess.

There are plenty of reasons to be dubious about the plan, including the blithe overuse of “blockchain” as a buzzword and a panacea to all currency problems. Akon’s response t o technical questions asked at the panel wasn’t exactly heartening, either: PageSix reports him as saying, “I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out.” But it’s worth noting that Akon’s charity Akon Lighting Africa, which helps arrange financing for solar panels and small-scale lighting projects, is a similarly ambitious project that spread to 17 African nations in its first two years of operation and currently claims operations in 25 countries. The organization has won awards, earned UN recognition, and made news last year by securing a $1 billion credit line from China. A similarly robust set of investments might make Akon Crypto City sound less like a science fictional idea piggybacking on tech fads.

But Akon’s political ambitions might prove distracting as the city design unfolds. PageSix reports that at the same panel, he also expressed an interest in running for president in 2020, hoping to take on both Donald Trump and Kanye West. “It’s gonna be entertaining, it’s gonna be something worth watching,” he said, according to PageSix’s brief. “I’m going to go after Trump, and Kanye will get offended because he likes Trump, and he’s going to go after me. Then I’m going to go after Kanye, and then Trump’s going to get offended because he likes Kanye, and he’s going to go after me. And the debate stage will be set where it’s all about me. It’s perfect, a master plan.”