Akon criticized the U.S. government on Saturday for not taking him up on his offer to let his organization, Akon Lighting Africa, help restore power to Puerto Rico.
“We actually presented a program for Puerto Rico and we got rejected. We have the solution for Puerto Rico…. and we could’ve had power back in 30 days. And they rejected us,” Akon told TMZ.
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Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 20, destroying thousands of homes and taking out electric power across the island. Five long months later, power was restored to about 84 percent of the island, with more than 400,000 customers still without electricity. President Donald Trump visited the U.S. territory to observe the disaster. Instead of bringing hope and resources, he displayed a lack of compassion during the visit.
Akon teamed up in 2014 with political activist Thione Niang and entrepreneur Samba Bathily to launched Akon Lighting Africa, an initiative to provide an affordable source of electricity to 600 million Africans. While an opportunity was missed in Puerto Rico, the celebrity continues his work across the African continent. He expects to reach his goal of 48 counties by 2020.
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The artists is not alone in his commitment to improve quality of life for people when governments are either unable or unwilling to make their people a priority.
The superstar is working in partnership with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICF) to bring clean water to children in Burundi. The project, BEYGOOD4BURUNDI, helps build wells to improve hygiene and sanitation in schools.
The Grammy winner teamed up with economist Jeffrey Sachs’ poverty-fighting organization, Millennium Promise, to help eradicate poverty in African villages. Their approach is to integrate development programs that address a range of problems, including hygiene and farming.