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A game-changing initiative

A receptive environment

We are in 2014 when the three personalities who will launch the Akon Lighting Africa project, Senegalese music star Akon, the youth activist Thione Niang and the entrepreneur Samba Bathily, meet and decide to join forces and networks around a transformative initiative with a clearly stated ambition: to succeed in lighting Africa. This will be Akon Lighting Africa, an awareness campaign launched by Solektra.

At first the project raised many questions, with many people considering that the challenge was too huge to be addressed or simply resigned to the fact that 600 million Africans will live forever in darkness once night falls. The 3 project’s three promoters pay attention to to key indicators. These include the decrease in the price of the photovoltaic cells used to manufacture solar panels, which dropped from 6 dollars/Wp in 2009 to 0.4 dollars in 2015; the gradual emergence of a global clean tech industry for which Africa as a promising field of operation; and the willingness of certain African decision-makers, from both the private and public sectors, to change the situation – because without energy there cannot be any development. The African energy leaders’ group is formed in Davos in January 2015; under the leadership of Seyni Nafo, the group of African negotiators for COP 21 – when the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was signed – has managed to speak with one voice to ensure that Africa’s needs would be taken into consideration. The International Renewable Energy Agency reissued its Renewable Energy Atlas for Africa, highlighting the opportunity for the continent in this field; in the United States, the American development agency USAID launched Power Africa with the support of President Barack Obama, and it was an African, Kandeh Yumkella, who led the Sustainable Energy For All project at the United Nations to achieve the 7th SDG – access to clean energy for all. This creates the perfect conditions for Solektra’s message to be heard.

An opportunity for Africa

From the outset, Solektra’s project aims to develop a production capacity in Africa, and the Akon Lighting Africa initiative will carry a strong message: not only can Africa be enlightened by renewables, but it can also build a competitive advantage in this area. The solar electrification project launched by Solektra is a project launched by Africans who are familiar with the realities on the ground: street lamps manufactured abroad, which increases the cost of projects; the need to manufacture locally to better take into account the specificities of each country and adapt products to the needs and not the other way round; the terrible issue of youth employment – as the next generation must be given prospects, to avoid African young men and women continue to die in the Mediterranean.

Beyond the local production of solar solutions, the promoters of the project, and in particular Samba Bathily, imagine what will be called “energy +” projects: energy + agriculture and irrigation, energy + access to water, energy + education. The Akon Lighting Africa awareness-raising campaign will be a way of showing that these projects are no longer just “working hypotheses”, but objectives towards which all stakeholders – governments, authorities in charge of rural electrification, private partners – must converge.

A need for sensitization

At the end of the day, Akon Lighting Africa is first and foremost an awareness-raising campaign – with a very specific strategy. The aim is to highlight pilot projects, to draw attention from first targeted beneficiaries – the rural African communities onto solar solutions – so that they can in return, call public decision-makers for action. Indeed, at the time when the project begins, solar solutions are considered to be expensive, technically complex to install and maintain, in a word, more suitable for developed countries than for developing countries.

Who will Samba Bathily, Akon and Thione Niang be talking to?

  • First of all, African populations, by showing them through projects that it is now possible to light up, cool down and work with clean energy.
  • Public authorities, to invite them to consider solar solutions in their calls for tenders and rural electrification plans
  • DFIs – banks, credit institutions, development banks, international donors, private funds – to invite them to increase the volume of their investments in Africa on renewable projects, and to structure opportunities big enough to be attractive.
  • Media, to ask them to help reposition the issue of access to energy in Africa at the top of the international political agenda.
  • Technical partners, to design innovative schemes in order to deploy equipment quickly while offering governments attractive financing approaches and repayment modalities .
Key highlights
Official launch
The Akon Lighting Africa awareness campaign officially begins in Dakar in January 2014, when the project is presented publicly for the first with these objectives: leveraging solar energy to fast-track Africa’s electrification and create a virtuous ecosystem in which young Africans can be trained to install, maintain and manufacture these solutions. The Dakar session is followed by a first tour in 9 West African countries.

Sensitization campaign 2015-2017

January 2017 Solar Street Lamp Assembly line is inaugurated

It will soon be possible to equip African localities with ‘Made in Africa’ street lamps: this is the message Solektra is sending at the last big action of the Akon Lighting African campaign, on the sidelines of the Bamako summit for Peace, Partnership and Emergence, when a solar street lamp assembly lines is inaugurated in Bamako.

January 2016 World Future Energy Summit

Abu Dhabi Sustainable Week: In January 2016, the Akon Lighting Africa campaign stops in the UAE for the World Future Energy Summit, in response to an invitation from Masdar. This is an opportunity to hold a briefing for industry leaders to discuss how to scale UP’ renewables.

December 2015 Inauguration of the Solektra Solar Academy

The Solektra Solar Academy is officially inaugurated in Bamako, Mali, by Patrice Dangang, one of Africa’s leading experts in terms of technical training in the field of renewables.

December 2015 COP 21

At COP 21, Africa is on the agenda and the group of African negotiators manages to obtain substantial financial commitments to help the continent implement its climate change adaptation strategies while promoting the development of renewable energies to support economic development. Akon Lighting Africa once again receives international recognition, notably at the conference chaired by IRENA.

July 2015 Akon Lighting Africa Tour

The summer 2015 Akon Lighting Africa tour passes through Kenya, Rwanda, the Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Niger and Benin – for a series of meetings to sensitize public decision-makers, meetings with agencies in charge of electrification and ministries of energy, and visits to pilot projects with local media take place.

June 2015 Sangaré Mali

Sangaré, Mali. Meeting with the mayors of the Kayes district to discuss solutions combining access to energy and access to water – in a region where extremely high temperatures have become an issue for economic development.

June 2015 African Energy Leaders Group

The President of Sustainable Energy or All Kandeh Yumkella imagined to bring together a group of public and private decision-makers to mutualize electrification plans and mobilise more financial resources in Africa. Akon Lighting Africa is invited to this sensitization meeting which will be attended by committed personalities such as the Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, or the Beninese Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou.

May 2015 Sustainable Energy For All

In May 2015, Akon Lighting Africa is presented as a ‘best case’ at the Sustainable Energy 4 All summit organised by the United Nations. On this occasion Solektra announced the future creation of a solar academy in Bamako, Mali.

Lessons learnt

Address real issues
Overall, the Akon Lighting Africa campaign contributed to putting the issue of African electrification back on the international agenda, highlighting that delays in Africa’s electrification process should not to be tolerated anymore while increasingly affordable and technically relevant solutions for the continent are available.
Two other issues were also highlighted. First, that of prioritization. In Africa, and given that, at the time, 70% of the population lived in rural areas (today: 65%), should we absolutely focus on deploying the grid from the cities to the countryside? Shouldn’t offgrid solutions draw more attention from public and private decision-makers and attract more of the available investments? Second issue: quality of the equipment – which depends not only on the quality of the initial materials and components but also, and above all, on maintenance. It is up to the energy players in the sector to raise awareness among the public authorities. But it is also up to the public authorities, who always have the last word, to decide to invest in this area in addition to purchasing street lamps or public candelabra – and, by choosing solar energy, for example, to create jobs for the new generation at the same time.
Improve solar project financing
Why waiting 3 to 5 years to unlock the financing of an electrification project, when the equipment itself can be deployed within a few weeks or months? Solektra’s whole approach with the Akon Lighting project has shown that it is possible to do things differently. Rather than thinking in terms of complex concessional loans, other approaches can be considered – export credit or supplier credit, financing guarantees by African banks, or even pre-financing for certain states with the possibility of planning instalments in line with their effective payment capacities.
Trusting local communities
People can arrive in a village with ‘ready-made’ solutions; they may or may not be suitable, and if they are not suitable or need to be improved, then one should be humble enough to question himself in order to address the only real need that counts: that of the people. Too often Africa is considered as a laboratory for projects imagined elsewhere, whose impact is measured according to criteria over not always defined by end users. Is lighting the priority? Should digital solutions for education be added? Should solar water pumps not be considered in areas where irrigation is difficult? These are some of the very concrete questions the team faced during the project.
After Akon Lighting Africa
Solektra, a trusted partner in Africa and beyond
Today Solektra is considered a trusted partner in Africa – simply because of its track record. To date, the company has electrified 1775 locations on the continent in a total of 17 African countries. Solektra ‘model’ is seen as trustworthy: because the company has not only offered quality products but also trained local workers and engineers in the installation and dimensioning of stand-alone photovoltaic systems, maintenance and support are guaranteed.
Solektra has also demonstrated its ability to bring to Africa world-class international partners, such as Sunna Design, recognized for its technology in the field of solar street lamp batteries, R20-20regions of climate action regions which is setting up a fund dedicated to renewable infrastructures in Africa (Sub national Climate Fund for Africa), or technical partners such as Tata Transformation Communications Services interested in the deployment of solar-powered digital solutions and e-services.
Solar solutions to support Africa’s industrial development: Multi-Industries Group project
Another subsidiary of the ADS Group, Multi-IndustriesGroup was created in view of scaling up the deployment of solar solutions. The company has a pan-African ambition and wants to build 5 plants within 3 years in the five major sub-regions of the continent. The first one, already operational, is located in the Diamniadio tech cluster, 50 kilometres from Dakar. Three production lines are available there, one dedicated to the assembly of solar street lamps of course, the second to the assembly of solar-powered electric vehicles and the last to the production of computers.
Multi-Industries Group operates in close collaboration with the Solektra Solar Academy, and the Diamniadio plant already includes a room reserved for training activities; a design and technical department will also be available as of September 2020 to develop new solutions in line with the specific needs of African consumers.
Our ambition
Our convictions
Our expertise
Our team
Products and equipements
Integrated solutions
Countries of operations
Flagship projects
High quality standards
Servicing African populations
Partnering with best experts
Solektra Solar Academy
Solar academy : what for?
Democratizing solar solutions
Promoting a 360° approach
Becoming a reference institute
Deploying best experts in the field
Solar training : what type ?
General trainings
Specialized trainings
A la carte trainings
Calendar 2019-2020
Application : what process ?
Joining individual trainings
Registration process
Joining corporate trainings
After the soalr academy : what’s next ?
Solektra Solar Academy certificate
Solar jobs
Akon Linghting Africa
A game-changing initiative
A receptive environment
An opportunity for Africa
A need for sensitization
Key highlights

Official launch

International sensitization campaign 2015-2017

Lessons learnt
Address real issues
Improve solar project financing
Trusting local communities
Afater Akon Lighting Africa
Solektra, a trusted partner in Africa and beyond
Solar solutions to support Africa's industrial development
News and medias resources
In the medias
Press release
Media resources
Solektra- An overview
Banque d'images
Installing solar streetlamps
Tumba village
MIG plant in Diamniadio
60 solar locality in Maly
Solektra Solar Academy
Trainings in Bamako
Trainings in Dakar
Akon Lighting Africa
Akon Lighting Africa sizzle real
Solektra Solar Academy
Solar streetlamp assembly lines