A RAPPER planned to spend £4.7billion building a crypto city of the future but five years later it’s still unfinished and plagued with problems.
Akon intended to set up his modern metropolis – dubbed Diamniadio Lake City – in an idyllic Senegalese coastal town called Mbodiène.
The ambitious design was meant to be completed this year but it’s still only a “bare bones” construction, invaded by tumble weed and cattle.
The star’s brainchild was inspired by a country that features in the movie Black Panther – dubbed Wakanda.
Akon also planned for his city’s economy to be run primarily on Akoin cryptocurrency – his own digital currency and blockchain platform.
The rapper announced his idea for the city back in 2018 and said its construction would begin in 2021.
But the project has proved a nightmare, fraught with delays and controversy.
Talking about his reasoning behind the elaborate plan Akon said: “When I’m in the United States, I meet a lot of African-Americans who don’t really understand their culture.”
He added: “So I wanted to build a city or a project to give them the motivation to come and see where they come from.”
The Senegalese-American described Akon City as a “real-life Wakanda” and compared it to the technologically advanced fictional metropolis in Marvel’s Black Panther film.
In the film Wakanda has impassable mountains and jungles around its borders to isolate itself from outsiders.
Inside the boundary there are lush river valleys, mountain ranges rich in natural resources, and a fabulous capital city that integrates space-age technology with traditional designs.
Akon said he hoped his project would provide much needed jobs for Senegalese and be a “home back home” for black Americans.
“The system back home treats them unfairly in so many different ways that you can never imagine,” said Akon – whose full name is Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam.
“And they only go through it because they feel that there is no other way.
“So if you’re coming from America or Europe or elsewhere in the diaspora and you feel that you want to visit Africa, we want Senegal to be your first stop.”
The star was born in the USA to Senegalese parents and he spent much of his childhood in the West African country.
He is so popular there that the authorities have embraced him as a native son.
Akon previously travelled with government officials to view the grassy fields in Mbodienne – which is around 62 miles outside the capital.
Tourism Minister Alioune Sarr said the launch came at a time when private investment is scarce and vital.
Even the 70-year-old village chief, Michel Diome still approves of the plans and believes the project could be a goldmine for the local economy.
He said: “Every village chief would desire a project like this, because we are expecting jobs for men, women and the youth in Mbodiène,” says Diome, who gave Akon his blessing for the project.
However, despite the high hopes for the city the process has been far from smooth sailing.
In 2021, Devyne Stephens, a music executive and Akon’s former business partner, brought a £3million lawsuit against the singer, claiming that he still owed him money from a 2018 settlement agreement.
In March 2022, Stephens asked a judge to freeze Akon’s New York assets, claiming that if they didn’t Akon would have difficulty repaying an alleged debt.
Stephens’s lawyer, Jeffrey Movit, alleged in his affidavit that Akon City and Akoin exhibited “many of the trademark characteristics … of fraudulent business ventures such as Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes”.
Akon City was “likely a scam”, Movit alleged.
Akon denied the allegations about Akon City.
The following month, he paid £700,000 to settle part of the ongoing lawsuit.
He said the motion to freeze his accounts had been made “out of spite” to damage his reputation.
The next blow came when the scheme began to loose its backing from Senagal’s outgoing president, Macky Sall, and the Society for the Development and Promotion of Coasts and Tourist Zones (SAPCO).
SAPCO appears to be loosing patience and has sent Akon a formal notice that if the project has not advanced by next year, its contract with him will be terminated, according to local media.
The city is also riddled with complex lands rights issues meaning that construction has barely even begun.
Apart from the Welcome Centre, the only other sign of progression is a recently-built youth centre.
This was financed by Akon as part of a contract in which Mbodiène’s residents stipulated conditions the singer had to fulfil before being given the village’s blessing to build the city.
Credit Gist New Today News in Newspaper Nigeria Headlines