In brief

  • A city in Kenya is supporting the ambitious crypto project of the rapper, Akon.
  • It's the second city after Akon's own city, Akon City.
  • Akon wants all of Africa to use it.

Akon, the rapper-turned-crypto entrepreneur who’s building an entire city in his own name in Senegal, announced today that yet another African city will run on his cryptocurrency, Akoin.

Akoin, which is currently in beta and will launch later this year, will power the Mwale medical and technology city (MMTC), a $2 billion science and tech hub in Western Kenya. MMTC is “the Hamptons of New York in Kenya,” according to a 2018 promotional video that describes the vision of its creator, Julius Mwale. 

At the center of the city, which houses 35,000, is a 5,000 bed hospital called Hamptons Hospital. The hospital is surrounded by thousands of homes, resorts, retail outlets and a 36-hole golf resort. The plan is to rework all of the city’s payments systems, which currently process 50 million transactions each year, so that they support Akoin. 

Why got to all of the bother? “I wanted to create something special for African citizens, especially financially, and give them a currency that they can trust and also utilize on a day to day [basis],” Akon, who is of American and Senegalese descent, told a Zoom call full of journalists attending the virtual Blockdown 2020 conference. 

Akon said his dream is for Akoin to be “the future currency for the continent and all the developing countries around the world.”

To kick things off, Akoin, which is based on Stellar, will also power the $10 billion Akon City. Construction on the city started in March 2019, and the city is now 85% complete, Mwale told the Zoom call. From there, the sky’s the limit: “We expect the Akoin platform will exclusively run for about 70% of Africa,” said Mwale. 

Akon, real name Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, told journalists from his residence in Atlanta that his aspiration is for Akoin to be “the future currency for the continent and all the developing countries around the world.”

Not now, obviously: smartphone penetration in Kenya is roughly 21%, according to Newzoo's 2018 Global Mobile Market Report, and Senegal’s is 19%, according to its 2015 edition. Only some Akoin transactions can be processed though so-called “dumb” phones. 

Although those who “willingly surrendered” their land to Mwale for the construction of MMTC are “now virtually millionaires,” according to the promotional video, most Africans won’t be able to make the most of Akoin. 

But “my vision for Akoin is the future,” Akon told Decrypt. “It's not so [much] about what's happening right now, because I know once Akoin is in effect, and we're moving it in the areas that we're moving in...it’s going to grow very rapidly.” 

Once enough people come online, people will “see how easy it is to navigate within the system, and obviously that will help to integrate it within their lives,” he said. That’ll speed up adoption, Akon said. But until the majority of the continent uses smartphones, Akoin’s full functionality is reserved for those residing in the Hamptons of Africa.