(CNN) — The award-winning R&B singer Akon is going ahead with ambitious plans to build a “futuristic” city in Senegal that he says will be a real-life version of Wakanda, the hi-tech nation portrayed in Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther.”
“We are looking at Akon city to become the beginning of Africa’s future,” he said at the ceremony also attended by Alioune Sarr, Senegal’s minister for tourism, and other government officials. “Our idea is to build a futuristic city that incorporates all the latest technologies, cryptocurrencies, and also the future of how African society should become in the future.”
Unlike other cryptocurrencies tied to stable currencies, Akoin is tied to cellphone minutes and relies on the use of smartphones.
According to the singer, more people in Africa trust their cellphone companies more than they trust local currency.
“We want to be able to kill corruption through blockchain itself and I think starting with currency, it is the biggest thing. The main thing they (Africans) will be able to gain is independence and I think being in the position to make your own financial decisions is key,” he said.
Yet Akoin has faced criticism and questions around how it works in low income countries with little access to smartphones or data.
Akon told a press conference that work would begin on his city in 2021.
“I wanted to build a city or a project like this that would give them (African Americans) the motivation to know that there is a home back home… The system back home (in the US) treats them unfairly in so many different ways that you can never imagine and they only go through it because they feel like there is no other way,” he explained.
He added that his hope is for Senegal to be the go-to tourist destination in Africa as a result of Akon city.
“As you are coming from America or Europe, anywhere in the diaspora and you feel that you want to visit Africa, we want Senegal to be your first stop,” he says.
Alioune Sarr, the Senegalese tourism minister, cheered Akon’s decision to invest in the country at this time when the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the nation’s economy.
“At a time, in a context where national and international private investment is rare. Akon, you have chosen to come to Senegal and invest $6 billion in the coming years,” Sarr said.
This is not Akon’s first major investment on the continent. Over the past years, the entertainer has signed off on major deals in Africa.