Akon’s Akoin: A Futuristic Vision and Philanthropic Mission

Akon’s Akoin: A Futuristic Vision and Philanthropic Mission

Akon, the Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and music producer, mostly known for his music career, has recently started focusing more on philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. Although born in Missouri, Akon is of Senegalese descent and spent a good part of his childhood there.

Akon co-founded the ‘Akon Lighting Africa’ project in 2014 which since then lit up 18 Africa countries, all built around the valuable, renewable resource of solar energy. This was one of his most notable dreams and it was inspired by his own grandmother, who despite being asked by the megastar to go to the US and refused, Akon felt his duty to bring electricity to his loved one.

But he also felt it wasn’t right to provide electricity to his relative when there were 600 million people who lacked such a basic utility.

“I thought it was basic common sense. The sun is always there. We never run out of sun in Africa.” – Akon

Extremely passionate about Africa, Akon’s new mission is to give all the necessary resources and financial tools to entrepreneurs who aim to empower not only the continent of Africa, but the entire world. The coin with his namesake is already built and is currently in its beta testing phase, which looks ever so promising. The platform will be launched in less than 90 days, which is also about the same time of their IEO release.

Building the Foundation for his Next Project – Akoin

This multi-talented, multi-platinum selling artist presented and spoke about his Akoin vision for Africa in a special panel during the Malta AI & BC Summit 2019 Autumn edition, together with President and Chief Operating Officer (who are also Co-Founders), Jon Karas and Lynn Liss to discuss Akon’s futuristic vision and philanthropic mission.

Malta AI & Blockchain Summit was proud to welcome this hip-hop sensation and let’s face it, it’s not every day that one of Africa’s most renowned philanthropists would accept an invitation to be a main speaker at the crypto and blockchain focused show. 

Speaking about his Akoin token and his hopes of how this blockchain-based cryptocurrency will be able to empower young entrepreneurs in Africa, his main vision is to strengthen the continent’s rising economies and support the development of sustainable communities. At Cryptimi, we were beyond ecstatic to be present for an exclusive panel discussion between Akon and his colleagues Jon Karas and Lynn Liss, all of whom are the brains behind Akoin.

Akon's Akoin - AIBC Summit Panel Discussion

Unleashing Economic Opportunity: One Coin; One Africa

While doing his philanthropic work in Africa and working on his lighting projects, Akon soon began to realise that apart from an energy and poverty standpoint, there were many other issues Africa was encountering. It was at this very instance he started to visualise other things.

After focusing his philanthropic ventures within the energy sector, he started to visualise even bigger things. He noticed how in a lot of the rural areas, people had their own economies, their own way of living that was completely partitioned to what was happening in the regular city life. Everything they were doing was literally collaborating back and forth from cellphones in general, and this caught Akon’s attention.

Granted, his creative juices were already churning, but perhaps a pivotal moment was when Akon had recently travelled to Paris with CFA, the Senegalese currency. Incidentally, this currency is printed in France. However, when he went to exchange it to Euro, he was told this was not possible and that he can only spend it in Senegal, since it was of no use in France. And that’s what solidified Akon’s wish to create a globally accessible currency. After closely following Blockchain and Crypto trends, Akon began to understand the significance behind this technology and its potential to revolutionize the way people collaborate and transact with one another:

Akoin - Akon's Cryptocurrency

“I just thought about it for two seconds and said: ‘You know what? Blockchain was built for a purpose.’ And I realised that crypto would be what would change Africa and unite the masses!”– Akon

It was at this very moment he thought to himself and came up with the concept of Akoin. This would be his own cryptocurrency for Africa, an African coin. The next thing he did was reach out to Jon Karas, who helped with the scientific and technical side of things.

Africa is a continent abundant in land, solar resources and above all, has lots of potential. From a population standpoint, it currently stands at 1.2 billion and is estimated to grow to a whopping 2 billion within the next 5 to 10 years. 75% of that population is under 21 – youths who are tech savvy and understand the digital economy today. They understand the use and importance of cellphones in their daily lives.

Thus, it was a no-brainer for Akon to choose this social demographic as the main target market. But he decided to take it to the next level, by giving them the tools they need to move on into the future and develop it. And this started to look more achievable with a currency that would bring people together.

Lynn - Speaker at the AIBC Summit for Akoin

‘One coin for Africa – Youth Entrepreneurship – Empowering People.’ – COO of Akoin, Lynn Liss

This quote pretty much sums up the concept behind this project perfectly and succinctly: After all, apart from having a great idea, it was also essential to have a solid, sustainable business model. Creating a currency means that you also need to make sure that it’s not volatile, that you have a business that brings in revenue and can sustain itself.

Jon Karas substantiated this by explaining how the business and vision are really aligned and driven by what Akon wanted to create, and so the main mission was to create and achieve that. Karas delved deeper into the main components of Akoin, explaining that there are two main parts, first there’s the token itself and then, there’s the Wallet/DApp Store:

1. The Token

This is a simple element: it just has an internal exchange mechanism which allows users to go freely between prepaid cell minutes which are of major value in Africa and lots of rising economies. This token is then taken and allows users to exchange their token to fiat currency, in an easy and accessible manner.

The same can be done with cryptocurrencies, from the mainstream ones like Bitcoin and Ethereum to the whole variety of altcoins. There are all kinds of great innovations on the blockchain and Akoin’s mission is to help empower entrepreneurs to rise in such growing economies.

2. The Wallet/DApp Store

The DApp Store is where Apps and DApps will be available to users, whether they’re transacting in Akoin, fiat currencies or other cryptocurrencies, to the thing that really adds the most value. This is extremely helpful to the world of Blockchain, because a broad and bright marketing platform is being presented:

Jon - Speaker at the AIBC Summit for Akoin

“A spotlight and megaphone to help those great innovations to find their way into the hands of the users.” – President of Akoin, Jon Karas

This will be an app that’s open to all – the same as the Apple App Store. So, their ultimate mission is to help get tools for entrepreneurs, education and social impact – to get those into the hands of the people.

Karas explained how someone may have the greatest innovation in the world through age old the analogy of “if the tree falls into the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound?” Their innovation is there to make sure that the sound is not only heard but that it’s super loud.

The team behind Akoin is on a mission to bring the people those billion plus in Africa and the 3-4 billion in the rising economies they’re built to create and service.

This alternative economy already exists, and it’s part of why the Akoin Ecosystem focused on prepaid cellphone minutes. Interestingly, there’s already an alternative transactional platform people are using day in, day out, across Africa by doing all kinds of economic activity, paying with their prepaid minutes. Akoin will simply expand the functionality of it.

Who Needs Akoin?

Akoin is for people who want to get into cryptocurrency but don’t have a credit card, ID, or bank account. Therefore, it will be there to enable such individuals to get onto the cryptocurrency market bandwagon. Then, on the back end, there’s a coin, which can be used for prepaid minutes and cellphone top ups. In the local African market, many people use minutes to trade for goods and services on the streets.

Africa Akoin Fueling Entrepreneurs

One of our Cryptimi reporters decided to touch up on this idea and asked Akon, Who Can Buy Akoin? Can I Buy Akoin?

Akon explained: “Everyone can buy Akoin. Yes, our target audience is Africa, but it’s a global platform that we’re building, so everyone can invest within the country or wherever they’re based, for whatever reasons, issues or similar circumstances.”

The Notion of Micro Lending

This is a big part of what Akoin’s team will be offering next. As the term implies, ‘micro’ means small amounts of money. This is perfect for individuals who want to start a business. It might take just a few 100 dollars to set up a shop or get something online, and Micro Lending makes this possible. What’s more, people providing these micro loans will also be benefitting from this process as Lynn Liss elaborated:

“Micro-lending is a big part of what we’ll be offering next and those people providing these micro-loans also are earning opportunity in and out of themselves; if they prove that they can both give out loans to people in the market and make sure those loans are returned, then they’re earning Akoin in the process.” – Lynn Liss

Therefore, if said loan providers can prove they can both give out loans to people in the market and make sure those loans are returned, then they can earn Akoin in the process. It’s a win-win situation, really.

How do Cellphone Minutes Relate to the Akoin Cryptocurrency?

In certain parts of Africa, cellphone minutes is considered a currency. There are youths who have over a million minutes – they’re like “minuteaires”. You can literally purchase fruits, goods, T-shirts, hats from vendors on the streets.
– Akon

Say for instance a person is at a shop and they don’t have the actual currency, they can give the shopkeeper 100 minutes for whatever they’d be buying. It’s an actual transaction. The mechanism behind Akoin allows such a transaction to happen on a far larger scale.

The Atomic Swap

Then there’s the functionality of Akoin called the ‘Atomic Swap’, which allows people to trade Akoin into any fiat currency that exists around the world. There’s that economic transaction where people can trade to and from any fiat currency that exists.

Akon’s team is marketing a platform for a lot of these DApps, particularly for those who have been launched, but for some reason or other can’t get to where they want to be.

By means of this Atomic Swap, businesses who are not a major exchange – which is a massive hurdle to overcome – needn’t worry about being a small fish in a big pond. They have a currency and can put their product out there and trade in and out of Akoin.

The Roadmap

As everyone knows, as an entertainer, Akon built his career off building other people’s careers, and he’s grown his own success and celebrity through collaborations with other artists: from Lady Gaga to T-Pain. Building relationships with other artists to gain bigger territory, get a bigger mass of people to be able to entertain. This platform is built around this very same concept.

Akon discussing Akoin Cryptocurrency

As Akon himself rightly puts it: “The key to success has always been unity. And I feel that you can cover the world when you unite and put yourselves together and bring all your resources together for one common cause.”

Akoin has one main goal in mind: to enable young entrepreneurs collaborate with each other and be able to utilize whatever their strengths and tools are to help the next and vice versa.

Revolutionising Africa with Crypto

Akon’s first steps to achieve his dream took place in Senegal’s capital city Dakar, where Senegalese President Macky Sall gifted Akon 2000 acres of land to establish an Afrofuturistic city.

Akon explains his reasons for wanting to build a Crypto City in Africa:

“The whole idea with the city is to create a renewable city. Crypto is the money spent in the city; all digital. All renewable energy; no gas, no nothing. And clearly, we’ll create platforms from all of today’s newest technologies embedded within the city itself.”

Owing to the artist’s Akoin Foundation, inspired entrepreneurs will be able to develop future-forward businesses and promote innovation, economic stability and growth across Africa, and eventually, worldwide. The Akoin Ecosystem of crypto-based Apps and DApps will enable aspiring entrepreneurs to learn, earn, spend and save; and thus, have more transparency and security. This will be of great value especially when participating in daily economic building activities.

Akon’s Take on Cryptocurrency

Akon wants to challenge all the naysayers who don’t believe in the value of cryptocurrency and wants to educate the general public by contradicting the common misconception that cryptocurrencies are too volatile. On the contrary, Akon truly believes that cryptocurrency has more stability than fiat currency:

“Believe it or not, cryptocurrency is more stable than fiat currency ultimately because it’s controlled by people.”

According to Akon, it’s cryptocurrencies’ decentralized feature which makes for a more democratic currency, because it’s ‘controlled’ by their users with the price varies depending on what those users perceive its value to be. Akon also believes that the blockchain system is beneficial because it “leaves a footprint” and “you can’t do anything without it being open for everyone to see it – it opens the road to transparency.”

Akon’s plans to launch an Africa-focused crypto were initially announced in June 2018, when Akon revealed that his cryptocurrency would serve as the primary currency for the Akoin Ecosystem. Akon’s “Crypto City” in Senegal is what he coined “a real-life Wakanda”. Similar to Marvel’s imaginary land of Wakanda in Black Panther, Akon hopes to bring an innovative and futuristic environment, describing it as “the first 100% crypto-based city with Akoin at the centre of transactional life.”

By means of the Akoin Ecosystem, consumers will be able to buy, hold and spend cryptocurrency straight from their phones. This will bring the power back to the people and the security back into the currency system. Moreover, it will also allow people to utilize it in ways where they can advance themselves, rather than be controlled by the government, as is the case with fiat currency.

Akon has described the goal of this crypto ecosystem as one which would be able to:

“unlock the potential of the world’s largest emerging economy through the creation of a stable currency and innovative, revenue-generating opportunities that stimulate and support youth entrepreneurship, economic stability, and growth across Africa and the world.”

Akon’s Other Notable Philanthropic Ventures

The fact that solar panel production costs had collapsed around the time Akon and his partners invested in his Lighting up Africa vision was a godsend to African countries, and thus galvanized their dream to turn a vision into a reality. Think about providing electricity to a whole country in less than a year.

Akon lighting up africa

So, what’s been achieved? Well, quite a bit. Over and above really. Akon and his team managed to provide electricity across 15 countries in 2015 and 25 countries in 2016. What’s more, this philanthropic vision gained global coverage, having been promoted through 586 media campaign articles from May to October 2015.

And if that wasn’t a praise-worthy mission, Akon was also involved in the initiative to start up an academy in Mali called Solektra Int, where the much-needed knowledge and skills are given to the people of Africa. To Akon, it’s far more than providing electricity, it’s about giving Africa’s youth the necessary tools to better their future. In a nutshell, the change being brought about in Africa, is one which is for the people and should be driven by the people in Africa.

It’s really no wonder why his ventures have been broadcasted worldwide: from Larry King, Huff Post to Aljazeera and so many more news portals. Akon’s philanthropic dreams are truly ones which need the spotlight. His ultimate wish to act upon his dream could be summed up in a few powerful words:

“I want to be in a position where I can utilize the gift that God put me in to be able to help someone else.”

He also didn’t want to simply be an idle dreamer and was determined to be the voice for the youth and generations to come: “As the youth, we also can’t sit by and wait.”

Suffice to say, our team at Cryptimi cannot wait to see what the future holds for Akoin, Africa and how Akon’s cryptocurrency will revolutionise digital transactions for the common good.

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