Five months after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and knocked out a significant percentage of the country’s electricity, Akon revealed he had a “solution” to restore residents’ power, but his offer was quickly quieted by the U.S. government.
In a brief interview with TMZ, the 44-year-old singer/record executive provided details on this claim and said Puerto Ricans would’ve received a faster response from his team if they got the green light.
“We actually presented a program for Puerto Rico and we got rejected,” Akon reveals. “We had the solution for Puerto Rico, clearly. We would have power up in less than 30 days, and they rejected us.” Akon cited reasons like “politics, propaganda, and special interests” as to why his company was denied. “They didn’t care about the people – if that was the case, they would have allowed us to go in and just provide the solution,” he said. “But I think it was bigger than numbers at that point.”
Three years ago, Akon planned to bring his “Lighting Africa” initiative to Latin America. He posted a photo of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil’s Mayor Antonio Carlos Magalhaes Neto on Instagram that showcased the pair presumably discussing electricity solutions for those without. The “Mama Africa” rapper previously attained praise and success for his efforts that brought electricity to rural areas of countries like Madagascar, Mali, and his hometown Senegal.
According to the Huffington Post, Akon’s electric journey sought to place the power within the hands of people who’ve had to live without this amenity. In 2016, he established the Solar Academy in Bamako, Mali. Through solar-powered inventions, engineers hit the ground running to find ways to bring 600 million Africans power.
At the end of January, ABC News reports 450,000 Puerto Ricans were still waiting for full power restoration.