While originally spruiked as a futuristic city inspired by the Marvel movie Black Panther that would emerge as a “beacon of innovation and human development” and bolster the West African and Senegalese economies by Akon in 2018, there are few signs of the city’s development beyond a ceremonial stone that was laid in a field near Mbodiene 12 months ago.
According to a report from Agence France-Press, the project has not progressed beyond the stone’s erection, with a small placard promoting Akon City having since fallen from its perch on top of the block.
Akon had predicted that the city would boast a police station, waste center, solar power plant, shopping center, hospital and school by 2024, anticipating the project would be completed in its entirety by 2030.
Senegalese locals appear to be growing increasingly skeptical of Akon City — the vision for a $6-billion Pan-African “smart city” boasting a crypto-powered economy located near the Senegalese village of Mbodiene that was articulated by popular musician and producer Akon.
The report cites Mbodiene locals who had high hopes for a surge in employment and economic activity who now know little of why Akon City’s development has stalled. 35-year-old local Jules Thiamane stated:
“They laid the foundation stone with a lot of speeches and promises. Compared to everything that was announced, I don’t think we have seen much yet.”
Not everyone has given up on Akon City, however, with the president of the Mbodiene village youth association, David Seck Sene, stating, “I still have hope. I don’t see how a project like this could stop tomorrow.”
Philomene Bamimba, head of a local women’s association, emphasized the economic benefits the city’s construction could bring for Mbodiene. “This is big for us,” she said.
Paul Martin of the United States-based engineering firm KE International — the company that won the contract to construct Akon City — asserted that more than $4 billion in funding has been raised toward the project.
Martin revealed that Kenyan entrepreneur Julius Mwale is the project’s lead investor, predicting construction will commence in October after the development of another Mwale-funded city has been completed in Kenya.
Martin added that the first 12 months of work on Akon City comprised “planning, approvals, procurement and recruitment of subcontractors.”
According to the World Bank, more than one-third of Senegal’s 16 million population currently live below the poverty line.