The Senegalese-American musician and millionaire Akon continues to make progress on his quixotic quest to build a city called, yes, “Akon City” in Senegal that will run on a cryptocurrency called “Akoin.”
Originally announced in 2018, Akon planned to create a $6 billion city for Africans who relied on the new digital payment method. Today, however, Akoin’s value has plummeted to around $0.012, after being valued at $0.28 in September 2021, when it was first launched on the BitMart cryptocurrency exchange.
Senegal does not recognize cryptocurrency as legal tender, but that has not deterred Akon from going full steam ahead with the project.
“I want to make sure that however we involve crypto within the city, it aligns with all the rules and regulations,” Akon recently told the BBC.
“I plan to retire in that city,” Akon said. I don’t like to use the word[s] ‘the king of the city.’ But that’s what it will turn out to be.”
However, Akon admitted that his plans for the city were rushed and that Covid-19 derailed the project, which has yet to get off the ground. He also commented on what he would have done differently: “I would have put more things in place before promoting it,” he said. “It wasn’t being handled properly,” he added. “I take full responsibility for that.”
“We are trying to build the city as quickly as possible,” he said, noting that the Senegalese president has “co-signed” an agreement to lease land for the project for half a century.
“We believe in Akon Town and we are all supporting Akon to bring Akon Town to life,” Me Aliou Sow, director general of the country’s tourism board, told the BBC. “It will attract tourists and investors from the region and SAPCO is fully committed to the success of this project.”
But the cryptocurrency project has its fair share of critics. Two years before the launch of Akoin, the project introduced a pre-sale known as the Token of Appreciation (TOA) campaign, which would help finance the cost of creating the cryptocurrency. Billed as a “donation,” investors were lured by the promise that every $1 invested would convert to four Tokens of Appreciation that could eventually be transferred to Akoin.
Akon’s campaign said they had raised nearly $300,000 during this pre-sale period, after which Akoin’s management committed to offering a refund or an Akoin Mastercard equal to an investor’s original donation in 2019.
But even people who requested refunds have not received them. One person told the BBC that he expected to wait weeks, but it has been over a year. “We are back to the same situation we were in years ago with the lack of communication and now everyone is up in arms,” said an investor named Marcus.
However, Akon has assured clients that their money will be refunded: “I would do a world tour just to pay them back.”