Akon wants to run a Senegal city on cryptocurrency—could it work?

Plans announced by Senegalese-American singer Akon last August to build “Akon City,” a futuristic hub in his ancestral homeland, were initially greeted with enthusiasm. But that quickly gave way to confusion: What was “Akoin,” and why was it appearing on billboards, postcards, and candy wrappers across the country advertising the 2,000 acre project?

Envisioned as a sustainable smart city, Akon City has been pitched as a residential and commercial hub, complete with resorts, towering condos, recording studios, a stadium, and e-commerce franchises. The city will run on solar and wind energy to circumvent the country’s unreliable power supply. It will also run on Akoin, a new cryptocurrency currently being piloted by the Grammy Award-nominated singer.

“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,”  Akon explained at the 2018 Cannes Lion Festival in France. “[It] also allows the people to utilize it in ways where they can advance themselves, and not allow governments to do those things that are keeping them down.”

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