KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — American rap artist and singer Akon is visiting Uganda Friday in search of investment opportunities that would extend his business footprint in Africa, where his efforts include a planned futuristic city.
Akon's arrival in the East African country was announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He will meet with President Yoweri Museveni to discuss “different investment opportunities in various sectors, including energy, tourism, and infrastructure development,” according to the state-controlled New Vision newspaper.
Akon and his wife, Rozina Negusei, went to a mosque in the capital, Kampala, Friday.
Visiting Uganda alongside a group of potential investors in January, Negusei revealed plans to invest $12 million in the country's entertainment industry.
“When you develop an artist, you develop a nation,” she said at the time.
A Grammy-nominated singer and record producer, Akon has made headlines in recent years as a pan-African businessman interested in opportunities on the continent of 1.3 billion people. In December a company associated with Akon reached a deal with a state miner to develop a copper and cobalt mine in resource-rich Congo.
Akon, whose real name is Aliaune Thiam, started a group in 2014 that backs solar energy projects in the rural parts of many African countries. The inspiration for Akon Lighting Africa was deeply personal: he found his grandmother was still using candles in Senegal to light her home.
But Akon's most ambitious goal is to build a $6 billion utopian city in Senegal that he described as a “real-life Wakanda,” comparing it to the technologically advanced fictional African place portrayed in the blockbuster film “Black Panther.”
The singer last year acknowledged the comparisons made between Akon City and the utopian society in “Black Panther,” calling it an “honor.”
Akon City is envisaged to have its own hospital, police station and even its own cryptocurrency already named AKoin. It promises a bit of everything: a seaside resort, a tech hub, recording studios and even a zone dubbed “Senewood” that developers hope will help develop Senegal’s film industry.
Akon City has been allocated a chunk of land outside the Senegalese capital, Dakar, but construction is yet to start.
Akon, who was born in the United States to Senegalese parents, spent much of his childhood in the West African country, where authorities have embraced him as a native son and praised him for investing in Africa at a time of such global financial uncertainty.
Akon, 47, rose to fame with a debut album in 2004. His hit songs include “Smack That,” featuring rapper Eminem.