Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Grammy-nominated American singer, rapper, and solar energy entrepreneur Akon will join his Solektra International partners Samba Bathily and Thiong Niang at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), the Middle East’s largest gathering focused on sustainability. The group will represent Akon Lighting Africa (ALA), a Solektra International’s initiative to bring renewable and affordable energy to rural communities in Africa.

Akon – an avid supporter of efforts to engage youth in a dialogue on sustainability –will bring his unique brand of star power to The Student Exclusive, a first-of-its-kind ADSW event dedicated just for students studying across the UAE. As part of the 19 January event, he will participate in an exclusive interview and will address the high schools from around the world who are finalists of the 2016 Zayed Future Energy Prize.

The Akon Lighting Africa initiative founders see ADSW as a key opportunity to build the partnerships that can help deliver sustainable energy for Africa. Commenting on his participation in ADSW, Akon said: “The urgency of delivering sustainable energy access to the 600 million Africans with no electricy access is the message we took to the Paris Climate Change conference in December. We see ADSW – the first global gathering on sustainability since COP 21 – as a great opportunity to transition the historic agreement reached at Paris into action to deliver a brighter future for Africa.”  

“For us, ADSW is a key platform to broker the connections and public-private partnerships needed to accelerate the electrification of Africa. This issue is high on the global agenda. What we need now is direct financing towards the most impactful projects, especially microgrids for rural communities.” said Solektra International’s co-founder and CEO Bathily.

“Sustainable energy is vital for development and inclusive, fast-track growth in Africa. It will determine Africa’s ability to unleash its full potential and improve living conditions,” added Solektra International’s co-founder and vice-president Niang.

Akon’s relationship with ADSW and the Zayed Future Energy Prize began last May, when he attended the SE4All summit in New York. While there he discussed energy access in Africa with Dikirani Thaulo, a graduate of the Zayed Solar Academy set up by Nkhata Bay School Authority, a Global High Schools Zayed Future Energy Prize winner in 2014.

Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, said: “Bringing light to Africa is critically important, and ADSW presents the perfect platform to connect those individuals and organisations whose work is focused on achieving this goal. Past winners of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, such as M-KOPA and D.Light.Design, have had significant impact in illuminating hard-to-reach communities in Africa through their pioneering innovations.”