AkoinYoung entrepreneurs in Africa face unique obstacles when starting their own businesses, which prolongs Africa’s development. Akon, the multi-platinum-selling singer and recording artist, is originally from Senegal in Africa. Therefore, he has a deep understanding of the economic strife facing Africa due to inflation and financial instability. On top of this, about 350 million adults in sub-Saharan Africa remain unbanked, equivalent to 17% of the world’s total unbanked. Akon aims to change this by introducing the Akoin cryptocurrency.

Why Akoin?

Akon is using blockchain technology to help African entrepreneurs. He seeks to provide them with the tools necessary to overcome the difficulty of working between more than 40 currencies across 54 African countries by uniting currencies. With the Akoin cryptocurrency, seamless transfers within and across borders could be possible.

In the early months of 2021, the youth of Senegal took to the streets to protest the economic instability and unemployment facing their generation, highlighting the need for a new economic recovery plan. Although the economy in Senegal has grown in recent years, the growth has not always meant growth in jobs for young adults.

Akon is aggressively seeking to reach his goal of implementing Akoin in Africa because “[i]t brings the power back to the people and brings the security back into the currency system.” The singer-turned-social rights advocate seeks to implement Akoin as a form of payment to provide users access to a suite of business tools. Additionally, the construction of Akon City has been approved by the Senegalese government. Construction will take an estimated 10 years with the cost of this futuristic city being an estimated $6 billion, supported by Akon and other investors.

How it Works

Akoin, the African cryptocurrency token, is part of a decentralized exchange ecosystem that allows users to trade tokens and other cryptocurrencies between each other or major exchanges. After making this technology accessible to emerging entrepreneurs and helping them with the extensive paperwork required by banks when starting a new business, Akon could strengthen the African economy with a stronger infrastructure for startups.

Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Akoin is specific to Africa and seeks to provide optimal support as a transaction medium in otherwise hard-to-reach areas. One major obstacle to the African adoption of cryptocurrency as tender is government uneasiness. Signs show that the wariness of another legal tender remains, potentially due to a lack of public knowledge and the possible insecurity that comes with blockchain technology’s anonymity.

Looking Foward

With Africa awaiting a crypto boom, Akon makes the clarification that Akoin does not necessarily need to be deemed legal tender, only an “alternative financial solutio[n].” According to Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics firm, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are ranked among world leaders in peer-to-peer crypto transactions. Mwale Technological and Medical City have beta-tested the transaction platform. More than 2,000 merchants utilized the technology as the “sole currency and payment processor.

Hope remains for the Senegalese government’s adoption of Akoin. Leaders of the African cryptocurrency scene are hopeful for more African countries to adopt and primarily benefit from the plethora of crypto applications.

– Melanie Goldsmith
Photo: Flickr

African American investorsMobile banking has had a dramatic upsurge in Kenya. Nigerian states need innovators for energy companies. Namibia and Ghana require finance reform for corporations. The housing construction market in Africa is booming. These are all opportunities encouraging African American investors to provide capital for the dynamic upsurge in venture capital and profitable markets in Africa. According to Andy Ingraham, president and CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers, the wealth of Africa lies significantly in the hands of African Americans. He notes that more African Americans are doing more business with the Caribbean and Africa and are also partaking in philanthropic ventures.

African American Investments in Africa

There are two highly effective ways African Americans can boost Africa’s economy and create significant income. Does the potential business seek to export and import goods or seek to open and invest in production manufacturing on African soil? Danladi Verheijen, managing director at Verod Capital, a leading investment firm in Lagos, Nigeria, advises that “the bigger opportunity is being able to set up local businesses in Africa to make and produce locally manufactured products.” Consequently, this action results in increased local employment and self-sufficiency.

Choosing the right African region is also a significant factor in successful business operations. Rosa Whitaker, the first assistant U.S. trade representative for Africa, suggests that “There is much synergy between Africa and African American business because the region is growing in precisely the areas where African American firms are competitive.” Since African American companies made an estimated gross profit of $21.8 billion in the U.S.  industrial service sector in 2013, there is a greater chance a higher profit is obtainable in Africa where consumerism and competitive states are favorable.

Famous Investments

Ethnically from Senegal, Akon migrated at the age of 11 to New Jersey. Today, known as a multimillionaire artist and entrepreneur, Akon has invested $6 billion into Cadastral de Mbodiene park, along Senegal’s coastline. He aims to build a futuristic crypto city for people of all social classes. This investment will drape West Africa with significant economic progress, increasing employment and decreasing poverty.

Mark Anthony Hernandez and his team of African American investors arrived in Uganda with $300 million, seeking to share their business knowledge and boost the country’s health and real estate sectors. The team plans to invest in neurosurgery while expanding residential and commercial estates for the citizens.

As Liberia is seeking to increase its tourism sites, BET founder, Robert L. Johnson, partnered with Liberian officials and other investors to build a four-star hotel in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Through the project, he hopes to boost the country’s tourism industry and encourage other communities of color to focus their investments on Africa’s rising economy.

Inequality in the US

Due to the issue of African American equality in the United States, many critics argue that reparations on all aspects of Afro-American lives require reconstructive attention before African Americans can further progress elsewhere in the world. Furthermore, African Americans report having no or very little knowledge of the conditions in Africa.

Mass incarceration in communities of color holds a heavier weight against African American business prospects, according to Michelle Alexander, a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate and legal scholar. In her book “The New Jim Crow,” Alexander highlights the long sequence of racial caste systems placed upon minorities, specifically black and Hispanic men. This has resulted in decreased growth in capital, corporations, family connections and the ability to vote. This reality is clear in many black families whose opportunities to invest shrink when receiving a sentence through unfair prosecutions or arrests.

The Road Ahead

Although it is important to see the hurdles set against the rise of African American businesses in the United States, it is equally important to provide capital to African regions that have opened their borders to African American investors. Large corporations with a high interest in emerging markets are encouraged to send workers abroad and gain experience, supporting growth in the United States and Africa.

Ayesha Swary
Photo: Flickr

Here is a list of the top 10 celebrities from Africa. They all put their fame to good use to help people in need who are from their hometowns and throughout Africa.

1. Chinua Achebe —  Nigerian Novelist, Publisher and Educator

Achebe was born in Nigeria on November 16, 1930. He recently died at the age of 82 on March 21, 2013. He taught at different universities in America and is known for his book, “Things Fall Apart,” one of his earlier pieces of writings that was published in 1958. “Things Fall Apart” is what led him to be called the “patriarch of the African novel.” Many of his writing pieces go back to his Nigerian roots.

2. Youssou N’dour — Senegalese Musician

N’dour was born in 1959 in Dakar, Senegal. His most popular music came out in the late 1980s and 1990s. In 2004, the Rolling Stone Magazine wrote that he was “perhaps the most famous singer alive.” N’dour had the tendency to mix pop and rock with sabar, which is the traditional dance music of Senegal. N’dour has toured with stars like Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman and Dido. He has been the subject of two award-winning films: “Retour à Gorée” and “Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love.” He also owns a night club, a radio station and a television station. N’dour is a UNICEF ambassador to help bring an end to the humanitarian crisis in the horn of Africa.

3. Didier Drogba — Ivorian Soccer Player

Drogba is a world-pronounced soccer player, but he is most well-known for helping end war during the civil war in Cote D’Ivoire. Drogba fell to his knees on live television after his team qualified for the World Cup, pleading that Cote D’Ivoire give up the war, and it worked. In 2009 he donated $5 million to help with the construction of a hospital in his hometown of Abidjan.

4. Angelique Kidjo — Beninoise Musician

Kidjo is a Grammy award-winning musician. She has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Josh Groban and Carlos Santana. Kidjo owns her own nonprofit organization, Batonga Foundation, which is based in Washington. It promotes and funds education for African girls. She is also a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador.

5. Akon — Senegalese Musician

Akon has sold millions of his three studio-recorded albums. He co-owns a record label called Kon Live that helped get Lady Gaga and T-Pain’s career started. He also owns Konvict clothing, and he founded Konfidence Foundation, which promotes education and health causes in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa.

6. Wole Soyinka — Nigerian Playwright

In 1986, Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Soyinka has produced “The Lion and the Jewel,” “A Dance of the Forests,” “The Strong Breed” and 17 other plays.

7. Salif Keita — Malian Musician

Keita was denied by his family because he decided to pursue his career as a musician, which was considered beneath his noble family’s status. He was banished when he was 18 years old because of the superstition that albinos were bad luck. His latest album was decimated to stop discrimination against albinos in Africa and the rest of the world.

8. Yvonne Chaka Chaka — South African Musician

Chaka Chaka is known as the “Princess of Africa.” She was known for her girly pop music. She now devotes her time to her work as a United Nations Goodwill ambassador and representative of Africa.

9. Oumou Sangare — Malian Musician

Sangare often performed music known as Wassoulou. Wassoulou is often sung by women. This music consists of lyrics having to do with women’s rights issues and feminism. Sangare is a United Nations Goodwill ambassador and was named an official ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2003.

10. Femi Kuti — Nigerian Musician

Kuti uses his music to downsize corruption, poverty and other socioeconomic issues prevalent in Nigeria and Africa through his lyrics. In his album, “Fight to Win” (which sold over 500,000 copies,) he collaborated with Common, Most Def and Jaguar Fight.

— Priscilla Rodarte
Sources: All Music, Biography, Forbes, NY Times
Photo: The Economist