KAMPALA — American rap artist and singer Akon has been given a special tourism and culture ambassadorial role in Uganda.
The singer and entrepreneur will promote tourism, culture and investment opportunities abroad.
His appointment followed a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni where thw duo discussed “different investment opportunities in various sectors, including energy, tourism, and infrastructure development.”
During the meeting coordinated by the Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, Amb. Abbey Walusimbi, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chief Executive Officer, Lilly Ajarova highlighted a number of available opportunities in the tourism sector that would be of interest to Akon.
Visiting Uganda alongside a group of potential investors in January, his wife Rozina 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.
The Trade and Investment Officer in the Office of the President, Isaac Kigozi revealed that as a special envoy on tourism and culture, Akon was tasked with the responsibility for the development of the Equator at Kayabwe as well as organizing the Uganda Cultural Festival which will be an annual event to celebrate Africa by the African-American Communities around the world.
“Akon has also been tasked with setting up high class luxurious lodges or accommodations within the tourism development areas of Uganda. He will also partner with Aya Group of Companies to set up Aya-Akon Tower a 72 storeyed building within the Central Business District of Kampala, ” Kigozi told reporters.
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