Senegalese singer, impact investor and co-founder of Akon Lighting, Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, has told the African youth, particularly those living in the Diaspora, to take a lead role in transforming the continent’s economies.
The Senegalese star was addressing the more than 2,800 youth participants from 90 countries who were gathered in Kigali for the three-day YouthConnekt Africa Summit.
“We (youth) have to be the driving force to rebuild Africa. We cannot depend on governments to do it for us. Their job is to lay down the low and make sure that there’s accountability for the things that we do,” he remarked.
“When I was growing as an entertainer, I said to myself I don’t want to be remembered for just singing and dancing. Ultimately, I had to figure out what I can do that will help create a legacy. It hit me in the middle of the first song the power just went off,” he said while narrating how he kicked-off his Solar Company to power Africa.
Akon whose solar company currently benefits Rwandan citizens, and aims at bringing electricity to 600 million Africans, especially those in rural area, talked of the Africa’s Diaspora as of strategic value to the continent’s sustained development.
While they have been playing a critical role in all areas of society, investing in business, health, education and social development, the renowned singer indicated that more needs to be done to mobilise African youth to fast-track the Africa’s economic development.
The Senegalese US-based singer also stressed the need to rebrand Africa as a continent with full of opportunities that Africans can tap into.
“On the internet you will only see historical images and animals, as if Africa was a big jungle. African never gets full credit in any way. Entertainers, filmmakers and producers, the press and anyone that creates content should take part in redefining this continent,” he noted
The impact investor also jokingly mentioned that it is models like President Donald Trump that will make Africans act, arguing that Africans need to come back to give back to thei communities.
On the other hand, Marie Chantal Uwitonze, President, Africa Diaspora Network-Europe, said that there’s a need to mobilise more youth in the Diaspora, highlighting platforms like YouthConnekt Africa as important.
“My motive to mobilise African Diaspora has always been due to the understanding that these people have a critical role in contributing to the development of their nations back home. Mobilising youth means ensuring driving transformation,”
“We can all know how much our African people benefit a lot from Diaspora remittances. But to leverage on the success we need to help our people change their mindsets. This is what we are doing with our network. We are doing this through dialogues, public debates, among other channels,” she said.
She emphasized the need to use the Diaspora to change the western narrative about Africa.
“Sometimes, the western people always think know what Africans need than we do based on a single trip in Africa. We need them to know that the Africa we are living in today is the Africa that they may not be aware of. This can be possible through tapping the potential and resources of our people in the Diaspora,” she noted.
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