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Akon launching Solar Academy in Mali

Hip-hop star Akon is launching a new Solar Academy in Mali to teach engineers how to harness the power of the sun's energy.

The Locked Up hitmaker has been working on providing solar power to those living in rural areas through his Akon Lighting Africa company, which he co-founded in 2013, and now he has unveiled plans to train locals and teach business leaders how best to use the power source at the institute in Bamako.


Akon announced the venture during a speech at the United Nations' second Sustainable Energy for All Forum in New York last week (ends22May15).


The Senegal native said, "I kind of seen (sic) what it felt like to live in poverty and understand what it is to be in a position without light and go days without eating. I felt it. I understood it. And it made me cherish life even more. It put me in a position to be a lot more humble as a celebrity."


Akon and his business partners hope the school will also create jobs in the capital of Mali.


Akon Lighting Africa boss Samba Baithily says, "We have the sun and innovative technologies to bring electricity to homes and communities. We now need to consolidate African expertise."


Co-founder Thione Niang adds, "We expect the Africans who graduate from this center to devise new, innovative, technical solutions. With this Academy, we can capitalize on Akon Lighting Africa and go further."