If we were to review the state of the world on the basis of entertainment news headlines, 2015 was the year of Kardeshian/Jenner family saga, unfortunately. We do not need to be reminded of how so. And then from a football perspective, we would start off with questioning Qatar’s right to host a World Cup to the ever-growing FIFA scandal eventually ending at the annual celebration of who among the great players that we observed in 2015 is the greatest of them all, in the form of the Ballon d’Or 2015 – of course, it had to be Messi.
But little exposure was given to a huge announcement made by Akon, in late May, to bring solar power to 600 million residents of Africa tapping in the primary resource that is in abundance across the continent.
Through the Akon Lighting Africa initiative, among a network of ‘private-public partnerships’, Akon aimed at educating engineers on how to install and maintain solar panels while working with a wide range of solar solutions across 14 countries initially with the intention to extend to 34 by 2020.
Additionally, Akon partnering with Shell, was responsible for bringing Africa’s first football pitch powered by kinetic energy. Invented by British engineer – Laurence Kemball-Cook, the artificial turf installed in Lagos, Nigeria merely light’s up by identifying player movements across the pitch. Electronic tiles carefully placed under the pitch track the players ultimately generating and transferring 7 watts of electricity to a battery which feeds solar power to six LED floodlights. Solar panels around the pitch complement the technology, stocking electricity throughout the day.
Though it was the first of its kind in Africa, it was not the first to be installed globally as one was had already been installed in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. These panels had been installed in 150 locations across the globe in lighting up various verticals since then.
Yes, it is a huge undertaking by Akon and company with an intention that deserves much more than a few words and a round of applause. But he will only build on the gains made last year. This will fetch in additional interest from accomplished individuals who are in a position to either donate financially or through know-how, considering the inability of local governments to participate in these sort of initiatives.
God willing, we hope Akon’s project grows into a wider phenomenon with an opportunity to realize its potential in Middle Eastern and Levantine countries eventually giving rise to a few stars of the future.