Originally published on Sustainnovate.
Along with my own personal interview with Akon, the international superstar and solar entrepreneur was interviewed on stage during a student event in the midst of this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. I was lucky enough to be there and film the whole thing — check out the video below, followed by extra commentary and highlighted quotes in text.
I love that initial news clips regarding Akon Lighting Africa show Akon, Thione Niang, and Samba Bathily highlighting the human side of this work. Isn’t that what business should mostly be about?
The montage at the start also did a decent job highlighting a critical point — that solar power costs have dropped tremendously in recent years. Though, I prefer using charts that go further back in time, like these two:
It’s great to hear that the team has so far overachieved on its solar installation targets, but it’s also not a huge surprise. The potential in these African countries is tremendous, star power goes a long ways there, and having a good chunk of change to get the ball rolling is always a big bonus. Furthermore, these guys have their roots in Africa, which I’m sure helps with building rapport and achieving results. But nonetheless, this quote is a gem:
“I do not know of any other company that has been able to achieve what we did in 1 year in Africa.”
Already in 15 countries, and with aims to be in 25 countries in 2016, Akon Lighting Africa is off to an inspiring start.
Aside from all of the inspiring stuff about Akon Lighting Africa, though, the thing I most love about this interview is really Akon’s general words of wisdom for the youth in the audience. There’s some great stuff in there, so be sure to watch the video.
One particular segment of the interview I think is especially worth highlighting for both its wide leadership and example for others, as well as where Akon Lighting Africa stems from. It also follows up on questions I had asked Akon in my interview with him earlier that day. Here are Akon’s words from this segment:
“Just from a message standpoint, when you get the opportunity to have access to speak to millions of people, what do you say?… That’s the role that an entertainer plays. I have access to a microphone, and every time I speak into this microphone, millions and millions of people hear it, and they actually have access to these words. Now, imagine having the same access in action. If we get the opportunity to do something for millions and millions of people, what do you do? So, these are guidelines that I follow just through my career. This is bigger than Akon. Typically, my name will create the opportunity for the awareness to be built or will create the opportunity to grab someone’s attention, but then once I have their attention, it has to be something that actually helps or uplifts or creates change within a race.”
He also did a great job highlighting that people should do what they are passionate about. They should follow whatever work really excites them. That is the best way to achieve success in one’s career. He followed that great advice with another long statement that I will again quote here:
“Our passion is always going to be the key to our freedom, but ultimately freedom doesn’t exist if we’re in a position that we’re not [inaudible] within ourselves. This energy crisis is way beyond just… a thought. Like, this is not only our futures, but it’s our kids’ futures and it’s the world’s future, because, even when you look at the climate change and how things are drastically changing, if we don’t come together now, as we’re doing, because it’s going to be this generation that makes the difference — clearly — it’s gonna be a huge problem for us tomorrow. There is no future for the earth. Nature is not gonna wait. Nature’s gonna go on with or without us. The same way dinosaurs went extinct, guess what, nature kept moving. That’s just the natural course of life, so we have to want better for our environment, because our environment at the end of the day is what allows us to live free and enjoy life the way it is. So we all have to play a role, and we all have to unite. Forget whatever issues, whatever differences — at the end of the day, as humans, as the human race, we all have to live under the same globe, so we have to come together and make the right decisions.”
Great stuff. Again, I encourage you to watch the whole video for much more worth hearing and sharing.
If you missed the article published yesterday with my exclusive interview of Akon, check that out now… or just the interview: