American-born Senegalese singer Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, better known as Akon, has told the African youth, particularly those living in the Diaspora, to take a lead role in transforming the continent’s economies.

The impact investor and co-founder of Akon Lighting was yesterday addressing the more than 2,800 youths from 90 countries who gathered in Kigali for the three-day YouthConnekt Africa Summit.

“We (the youth) have to be the driving force to rebuild Africa. We cannot depend on governments to do it for us. Their job is to lay down the framework and make sure that there’s accountability for the things that we do,” he said.

“When I was growing as an entertainer, I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to be remembered for just singing and dancing.’ I had to figure out what I can do that will help create a legacy. It hit me in the middle of the first song when power just went off,” Akon said while narrating how he campe up with the idea of his solar company to power Africa.

Akon, whose solar company currently benefits Rwandans and aims at bringing electricity to 600 million Africans, especially those in rural area, talked of the Africa’s Diaspora as of strategic value to the continent’s sustainable development.

While the youth have been playing a critical role in society, investing in business, health, education and social development, the renowned RnB singer said more needs to be done to mobilise African youth to fast-track the continent’s economic development.

He also stressed the need to rebrand Africa as a continent full of opportunities that Africans can tap into.

“On the internet, you will only see historical images and animals, as if Africa was a big jungle. Africa never gets full credit in any way. Entertainers, filmmakers and producers, the media and anyone that creates content should take part in redefining this continent,” he said.

Marie-Chantal Uwitonze, the president of Africa Diaspora Network-Europe, said that there’s a need to mobilise more youth in the Diaspora, underscoring the importance of platforms like YouthConnekt Africa as important.

“Mobilising African Diaspora has always been due to the understanding that these people can play a critical role in the development of their nations,” Uwitonze said.

“We need to help our people change their mindset. This is what we are doing with our network. We are doing this through dialogues, public debates, among other channels.”

She called on African governments to tap into the potential and resources of their Diaspora community to change the western narrative about Africa.

The New Times