In recent years, many celebrities have begun to capitalize on the technology of Blockchain, like Paris Hilton and Ghostface Killah, but one of the most ambitious to do so is the five-time Grammy-nominated R&B singer turned philanthropist, Akon. However, his hopes are to better the ecosystem of Africa through cryptocurrency.
Last year, Akon announced the creation of his own mobile-friendly cryptocurrency called AKoin, designed to fuel an AKoin ecosystem with Africa as the target market. Akon himself was born in Missouri, but he is of Senegalese descent.
His goal is to aid young African developers who have been thwarted by a digital divide, corrupt governments, and soaring inflation. With AKoin, they would have a platform to create, market, and monetize their own decentralized applications – or DApps – says Akon.
What’s more, it will have 54 currencies for the 54 nations within Africa.
Akon’s hopes are to solve the problems of injustice and economic stagnation in a massive emerging economy.
The AKoin ecosystem will also include a soft (or digital) wallet for secure storage and payment of AKoin transactions in addition to exchanges of traditional fiat money, other cryptocurrency, and prepaid cellular minutes, as they are quite valuable in Africa.
Furthermore, the ecosystem will give entrepreneurs the opportunity to build of credit and participate in microloans.
This all sounds great and all, you may be thinking, but how realistic is it? How much progress has AKoin made so far? It’s true that they are yet to release a workable token or detailed plan. And it doesn’t seem that there is a technical team in place yet.
Akon readily admitted that it’s a work in progress. "I come with the concepts," he said, "and let the geeks figure it out." The biggest challenge will be earning the Africans’ trust, says critics, as they’ve been cheated by fraudulent online investment schemes before.
As of now, the company hopes to begin with about 50 preselected partners whose DApps will be native to the AKoin platform when they are released.
After this, users will be able to make their own applications for use on other platforms. AKoin co-founder and President Jon Karas says "there will be no limit" to the amount of DApps residing within the AKoin ecosystem.
Though it has faced a few delays in its release, what AKoin does have is name recognition since Akon worked to promote the vision around the world. It also helps that the star has a good track record for his ideas, his Akon Lighting Africa project launched in 2014 being one of them.
It has successfully delivered solar-powered lighting to over 480 communities in 15 African countries so far.
"I think that blockchain and crypto could be the savior for Africa in many ways," Akon has said, "because it brings the power back to the people."