Inside Akon’s 2,000-acre crypto-city in Senegal

Akon City’s economy is planned to run entirely on Akon’s cryptocurrency Akoin

Jan.January 26, 2020 12:00 PM
Akon and a rendering of Akon City in Senegal. (Credit: Getty Images and Hussein Bakri/BAD Consultant/Semer Group)

Akon and a rendering of Akon City in Senegal. (Credit: Getty Images and Hussein Bakri/BAD Consultant/Semer Group)

It’s something of a moment for smart cities built from scratch. In Indonesia, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and Masa Son are building a new $34 billion capital city to replace Jakarta. But that doesn’t begin to compare to what’s happening in Senegal, where Akon is building a smart city that runs on his own cryptocurrency.

The Senegalese-American musician and producer posted on social media recently that he had finalized an agreement with Senegalese tourism officials for his 2,000-acre “Akon City” megaproject outside Dakar, according to CNN.

That’s right, Akon is behind one of West Africa’s largest, if not it’s largest real estate project underway in West Africa. There are some reports that the project broke ground last spring, while others say this month’s agreement will allow Akon’s team to break ground.

Akon City is set for 2,000 acres outside the Senegalese capital gifted to him by Senegalese President Macky Sall. The 46-year-old musician announced the project in 2018. The site is a five-minute drive from Senegal’s new international airport that opened in 2017, according to CNN.

Details are scarce, but renderings show what appears to be a mix of commercial and residential space. The development is focused on tourism and Akon plans for all transactions there to be done via his cryptocurrency Akoin.

Cryptocurrency millionaire Jeffrey Berns is planning a similar, although significantly larger, “cypto-city” project on 67,000 acres in Nevada called Innovation Park.

Akon spent the 2010s on hiatus from his music career, but has been working on business and philanthropic ventures across Africa. His most recent is Akon Lighting Africa, a solar power company that has installed infrastructure in 14 countries. He spent a significant portion of his childhood in Senegal, calling the country his “hometown.”

Akon City is to be developed in phases. The second phase will begin in 2025 and Akon said it could be completed within 10 years. [CNN]Dennis Lynch

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.