At the United Nations' second Sustainable Energy For All Forum, Akon announced the launch of the Akon Lighting Africa initiative, which hopes to provide sustainable electricity for the 600 million Africans who currently live without it.

“This professional training center of excellence is a first on the continent and targets future African entrepreneurs, engineers and technicians,” says the press release on the Akon Lighting Africa website. “It aims to reinforce expertise in every aspect of installing and maintaining solar-powered electric systems and micro-grids in particular, which are really taking off in rural Africa.”

As a part of the initiative, Akon plans to open a solar academy in Mali that will create jobs and teach young Africans how to harness and sustain solar power.

“We expect the Africans who graduate from this center to devise new, innovative, technical solutions,” said Thione Niang, Akon's co-founder. “With this Academy, we can capitalize on Akon Lighting Africa and go further.”

“I've kind of seen what it felt like to live in poverty and understand what it is to be in a position without light and go days without eating,” Akon said. “I felt it. I understood it. And it made me cherish life even more. It put me in a position to be a lot more humble as a celebrity.”

Watch footage of Akon’s United Nations speech below.

[via Complex]